China and Taiwan tussle over Haiti

Political rivals in possible competition with each other as they help Haitians.

    China says it will continue to step up the aid effort to Haiti without competing with Taiwan [AFP]

    According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, the country has declined to work jointly with China on relief efforts in Haiti.

    The two countries have long competed for global recognition, sometimes using "chequebook diplomacy" to woo aid-dependent poorer nations. Beijing still seeks to restrict Taiwan's world space, though tensions have eased since Ma Ying-jeou, the "China-friendly" Taiwanese president took office in 2008.

    Ma may deliver aid personally in a visit later this month to the neighbouring Dominican Republic, a move sure to anger China.

    According to Shelley Rigger, a Taiwan scholar at Davidson College in the US state of North Carolina, China has used aid in the past to try and pressure Haiti to break its Taiwan ties. And when they sent United Nations peacekeepers to the country in 2004, many assumed part of that mission was to court Haiti to recognise Beijing.

    'Diplomatic truce'

    special report
    Special Report: Haiti earthquake

    However, since Ma came to power China and Taiwan have made what many call a "diplomatic truce".

    Taiwan has also stopped trying to use aid to win recognition from countries.

    China is still raw from its May 2009 earthquake in southwestern Sichuan province, which left nearly 90,000 people dead or missing, and a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the aid for Haiti was not political.

    "When China suffered from the Sichuan earthquake, other countries offered aid. Now we can help,'' he said.

    However, a Taiwan-based analyst told the Associated Press that it might be too soon to determine China's intentions in Haiti.

    "They have no incentives to launch a diplomatic war for now, but we have to watch after the situation stabilises,'' said Kan Yi-hua, a professor of diplomacy at Taiwan's National Chengchi University.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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