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One-China principle is nonnegotiable

By LI YANG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-08 07:42


Shortly after Guatemalan officials made public on Monday the desire of the Bernardo Arevalo government of developing trade ties with the Chinese mainland, while maintaining its "diplomatic relations" with Taipei, the secessionist-minded Tsai Ing-wen authorities of the Taiwan island said in a statement that it did not come as a surprise and the trade ties the Central American country seeks to build with the mainland will not conflict with its "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan.

The Arevalo government took office in mid-January amid people's call to fight corruption and spur economic growth. While the first part of the Arevalo government's desire is fully understandable, the second part is totally unacceptable. It must realize that it cannot butter both sides of the bread at the same time.

Taipei has tried to smear Guatemala's openness to trade with the mainland as a testimony to Beijing's "checkbook diplomacy". But it is actually Taipei's failure to provide a broad market and enough opportunities to its "diplomatic partners" that has directly prompted the latter to take the initiative to switch their focus to the mainland.

Central America was once Taipei's staunchest base of "diplomatic support", with seven countries still recognizing the island "diplomatically" as of 2006. Yet, Costa Rica severed its ties with Taipei in 2007, followed by Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras in 2017, 2018, 2021, and 2023. It is Taipei that cannot counter the mainland's economic and trade influence with its "checkbook diplomacy" rather than the opposite.

The Arevalo government should realize that what it is proposing is by no means extending an olive branch in the eyes of Beijing, but presenting a grave provocation to a basic norm of the post-war order in the Asia-Pacific and a consensus of the majority of the international community. The Guatemalan politicians should discard the illusion that they can have their cake and eat it when it comes to the Taiwan question, which is China's internal affair and concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and core interest.

The one-China principle is the fundamental premise and political basis for China's cooperation with all countries, including Guatemala. Beijing will by no means allow any country to share the mainland's development dividend while maintaining "diplomatic relations" with the island, which is an inalienable part of the country. Taiwan's reunification with its motherland is a historical trend that no power can reverse.

It is to be hoped that the new government of Guatemala can effectively respond to the historical and contemporary trend and make a correct decision as soon as possible that is in the fundamental and long-term interests of the Guatemalan nation and people.

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