TOKYO — Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says St. Vincent and the Grenadines cherish its bond with Taiwan and has no intention of abandoning bilateral diplomatic exchanges even under pressure from mainland China.
Gonsalves who is on an official state visit to Japan, said St. Vincent “will continue” to have relations “with the Republic of China,” using the formal name preferred by the Taiwanese government.
“There is no intention for the change,” he said.
China has doubled down on efforts to isolate Taiwan from the rest of the world since Tsai Ing-wen, who refuses to accept that Taiwan and the mainland are part of “One China,” became the island’s president in 2016.
Gonsalves acknowledged that St. Vincent is seeing greater involvement by mainland Chinese in trade and in the restaurant industry.
It also receives investments and loans from the Caribbean Development Bank, of which China is a member. But relations with Taiwan are “very important,” he said.
Taiwan provided nearly 20% of the funding for a $270 million airport that opened in St. Vincent last year. The country, with a population of 110,000, has long depended on agriculture and fishing but is now sharpening its focus on tourism, which has picked up in recent years.
The country’s debt-to-GDP ratio stands at 72%, partly from building the new airport. St. Vincent aims to bring this under 60% by 2025, according to the prime minister.