The Central American country of Guatemala will “always support” Taiwan.
This was stated by Guatemalan Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro on Tuesday (30) after China held its most extensive ever military exercises around the self-governing island earlier this month.
In a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei, Bucaro stressed that Guatemala and Taiwan are “like-minded countries” and linked by a “democratic alliance.”
“Guatemala will always support Taiwan because we firmly believe in the principles of peace, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Peace is non-negotiable, but above all, sovereignty is non-negotiable,” Bucaro affirmed.
The remarks come just weeks after Beijing completed a series of military exercises around Taiwan in response to a visit by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island in early August.
Bucaro did not mention China in his remarks but said his visit to the self-governing island was about “showing the world the importance of standing in solidarity with the Taiwanese people, believing that only dialogue can prevail in the face of conflict.”
In her remarks, Tsai pointed out that Taiwan was the first “Asian country” Bucaro had visited since being appointed foreign minister and thanked Guatemala for its diplomatic support in the context of Chinese military exercises.
Guatemala is one of only fourteen countries that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and one of three remaining allies in Central America, the other two being Honduras and Belize.
China views democratically governed Taiwan as one of its provinces with no right to the characteristics of a state – a view that Taiwan’s government vehemently disputes and has ramped up pressure to win over the island’s remaining friends.
In December, China resumed relations with the Nicaraguan regime, and Beijing has openly stated it wants to bring the number of Taiwan’s friends down to zero.
The issue has broader geopolitical implications, as the United States is concerned about China’s increased activities in Central America.
In the run-up to Honduras’ presidential election in November, a U.S. delegation made clear during its visit that it wanted the country neighboring Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala to maintain its ties with Taiwan.
Current President Xiomara Castro, who had floated the idea of leaving Taipei in favor of Beijing during the election campaign, has subsequently declared her support for Taiwan.