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Pushed by China, Guyana cancels Taiwanese investment office

Guyana (Pixabay photo)

Guyana (Pixabay photo)

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — Under pressure from mainland China, Guyana’s government has cancelled permission for Taiwan to open a trade and investment office in the South American country.

The cancellation came Thursday after Foreign Minister Hugh Todd met with the ambassador of China, which insists that Taiwan is legally a part of its territory and not an independent nation.

The government issued a statement clarifying “that it continues to adhere to the One China policy and its diplomatic relations remain intact with the People’s Republic of China. The government has not established any diplomatic ties or relations with Taiwan and as a result of the miscommunication of the agreement signed, this agreement has since been terminated,.”

Todd told The Associated Press on Friday that government had initially not seen anything wrong in allowing the Taiwanese to set up an office to push trade and investment in Guyana, which has in the past 14 months become one of the world’s newest oil exporting nations.

“The idea was to allow them to establish an office to facilitate trade and investment only — and I say only — for trade. For us this was just a market opportunity for the two private sectors to conduct business but there are some geopolitics involved here," Todd said.

The agreement to establish the office was signed on Jan. 11 without any official announcement and the office became active on Jan. 15. Few took note until the U.S. Embassy in Guyana congratulated both sides for the achievement.

Todd said he met a Chinese delegation led by acting Ambassador Chen Xilai on Thursday. He did not divulge any details, but the cancellation followed immediately after.

Guyana is the headquarter nation of the 15-member Caribbean Community. Back in 1972, it had encouraged neighbors Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica to end China’s isolation in the region by establishing diplomatic relations as a group, with most of the bloc following after. The group largely maintains a One China policy.