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Fact Check: Beijing Gave Money to Attract Countries to Switch Diplomatic Ties from Taiwan to Itself

On March 27, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning claimed that China didn’t use money to influence or, in fact, to buy diplomatic relations with Honduras. Honduras cut its ties with Taiwan (the Republic of China) and established relations with Beijing (the People’s Republic of China) on March 26. Mao further claimed that there were no preconditions for Panama or any other country when they established relations with China in the past few years.

Radio Free Asia, however, did a fact check and found that Beijng’s claim was false. RFA concluded, “The People’s Republic of China has indeed set preconditions for establishing diplomatic relations with China and has provided a large amount of economic and non-economic assistance and incentives to attract countries if they would break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan.”

For example, Costa Rica established relations with Beijing in 2007. China committed to provide US$30 million in cash within two years of the establishment of diplomatic relations and an additional US$100 million to be delivered through China’s regular “turn-key” program.

Panama established relations with Beijing in 2017. Since then, China has provided US$1.86 billion in infrastructure and other investments to Panama. Beijing also donated US$143 million to Panama after establishing their relationship. It didn’t disclose the donation because it didn’t want to give the impression that “they pay a price (for countries) to break off from Taiwan.”

The Dominic Republic established relations with Beijing in 2018. From 2019 to now, China has provided US$490 million in infrastructure and other investments to the Dominic Republic. The research estimated that Beijing provided US$3 billion in financial aid to the country. China also donated US$30 million in 2021.

During the year when El Salvador established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 2018, Beijing provided El Salvador more than 3,000 tons of rice and pledged US$150 million in aid.

Immediately after the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2021, China pledged to donate one million doses of COVID vaccine to Nicaragua. In addition, Beijing reportedly provided an unspecified amount of supplies to the Nicaraguan police riot squad, where the Nicaraguan police force is led by the father-in-law of Daniel Ortega, the dictatorial President of the country.

It is not clear how much Beijing provided to Honduras to get it to switch sides. Reuters reported that before switching to Beijing, Honduras asked Taiwan for US$2.5 billion in aid which its Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina called “not financial aid” but a “negotiated refinancing mechanism.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, April 21, 2023