TAIPEI – The president-elect of Guatemala said Monday that the Central American country will not change its diplomatic relations in favor of China but continue to remain Taiwan’s ally.
Alejandro Giammattei made the statement in Taipei during an official visit to the island, which began on Sunday and is expected to conclude on Thursday.
“The only thing our presence (in Taiwan) does is send a message to the world that Guatemala is on Taiwan’s side and that together we will face the great challenges that we have,” Giammattei said during a visit to the office of Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.
The president-elect’s statement comes after Taiwan recently lost two of its international allies – the Solomon Islands and Kiribati – in a similar fashion to Panama, Dominican Republic and El Salvador, which since 2016 have broken off diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing.
The Guatemalan delegation to the island included four members of the next government under Giammattei, and two elected representatives, Maynor Mejia and Guillermo Alberto Cifuentes Barragan.
Tsai welcomed one of her few remaining allies during the visit that came barely two months after Giammattei’s election.
The Taiwanese president said the visit underlined the friendship and close ties between the two countries and the importance that Giammatei places on it.
Tsai is set to contest elections to be re-elected to office in January next year.
Giammattei expressed his wish to enhance cooperation with Taiwan with regard to agriculture, security and health, while the Taiwanese leader spoke of working with Guatemala on smart cities and smart agriculture.
During his trip, Giammattei is also expected to visit the offices of the Ministry of Health, International Cooperation and Development Fund, and the Central American Trade Office.
According to a statement by the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the delegation will also visit National Palace Museum, the iconic Taipei Tower 101 and the world-renowned Kavalan Whiskey Distillery in Yilan.
Beijing sees Taiwan as a rebellious province that has to return to the fold, whereas Taipei asserts itself as a sovereign state totally independent of China.