SANTO DOMINGO – The Dominican Republic is performing an about-face in its foreign policy by breaking its historic ties with Taiwan and establishing diplomatic relations with China, a decision applauded on Tuesday by the Caribbean nation’s business community.
The president of the National Private Enterprise Council (Conep), Pedro Brache, said that this is “a significant decision, given that it opens up a world of opportunities.”
Meanwhile, the head of the Association of Industrialists of the Dominican Republic (Aird), Campos de Moya, said that relations with Beijing are very important to the country because “at this time (the Dominican Republic) can easily transform itself into an intermediary point in Chinese manufacturing for the Americas market.”
For years, Dominican business has been calling for closer ties with China, the world’s second-largest economy.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Dominican counterpart Miguel Vargas on Monday in Beijing signed off on the new ties between the countries, announcing the opening of embassies and the “immediate” exchange of ambassadors.
In Taipei, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on Monday simultaneously announced the breaking of relations with the Caribbean nation “to preserve national sovereignty and dignity” and the immediate suspension of all cooperation and aid projects.
The Dominican government’s top legal adviser, Flavio Dario Espinal, said Monday that gradually enormous opportunities for cooperation with China will open up, not only in trade but also in the realms of finance, technology, tourism, education and energy.
As an example, he mentioned the opportunities available in the tourism sector, given that already more than 135 million Chinese tourists travel abroad each year and now hopes are that part of that flow will come to the Dominican Republic.
Despite the fact that there were no diplomatic ties with China until Monday, bilateral trade has grown in recent years and on April 10, Dominican President Danilo Medina attended the inauguration of the first Chinese firm to set up operations in the country.
The Dominican Republic is China’s second-largest trade partner in the Caribbean and Central America with yearly exchange amounting to about $2 billion.
With the decision, Santo Domingo has joined a trend launched by other countries in the region over the past 18 months to tighten links with China to Taiwan’s detriment.