TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The nominees likely to become U.S. ambassadors to Central American nations expressed concern for the decision of El Salvador to establish ties with China, and said they would help to protect and promote Taiwan's remaining diplomatic ties in the region.
During a hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in Washington on Aug. 22, Senators interviewed the nominee for the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Kevin Sullivan, and the Ambassador nominated for Honduras, Francisco Palmieri.
Senators expressed concern that after El Salvador and the Dominican Republic establishing ties with China, that there may be a domino effect of countries in Central America breaking ties with Taiwan. Nicaragua and Honduras are two of Taiwan’s 17 remaining diplomatic allies.
Sen. Cory Gardner said that he hoped both Sullivan and Palmieri in their positions as ambassador would give priority to encouraging Nicaragua and Honduras to maintain good relations with Taiwan moving forward, and he hoped that they recognize the importance of this relationship.
Gardner even said that the diplomatic relationship of these two countries with Taiwan is crucial to their future with the United States.
Senator Marco Rubio in his questioning of Palmeiri said that he urges the likely Ambassador to make it clear to the Honduran government, that should they break ties with Taiwan, it will harm their standing relationship with United States.
Palmeiri said that he would deliver the message clearly upon his appointment to the office and report back to the Senate Committee after a response from the Honduran administration.
After Taiwan preemptively severed ties with El Salvador upon the news that they would establish ties with China, Sen. Rubio criticized the El Salvador as having made a "terrible mistake" and has drafted legislation that would end U.S. aid to the country.
A foreign Ministry spokesman of China, Lu Kang criticized the U.S. response to El Salvador’s decision claiming ”the U.S. government now…is thwarting and even deterring other countries from ... establishing normal relations with China."
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taipei severed relations with El Salvador after the country demanded an “astronomical sum” of money for a port enhancement project.