Taiwan plans to lend ally Haiti US$150 million for infrastructure development in a bid to shore up relations amid a renewed diplomatic onslaught by rival mainland China that has stripped it of two foreign allies in the past month.
Foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee said on Thursday the aid was aimed at developing rural power grids in the impoverished Caribbean nation that is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake.
“This provides a win-win situation to help a diplomatic ally with a major infrastructure development project and also creates overseas business opportunities for Taiwanese companies,” Lee was quoted as saying by the official Central News Agency.
Haiti is one of just 18 countries that continue to recognise self-ruling democratic Taiwan after the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso switched ties to Beijing last month.
Beijing claims Taiwan as its own territory and opposes any recognition of the island as an independent state.
Beijing has been steadily increasing pressure on Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen over the past two years following her refusal to acknowledge the one-China principle under which Beijing defines Taiwan as a Chinese province. The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and the mainland threatens to use force to grain control over the island.
Along with diplomatic pressure, Beijing has cut the numbers of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan and increased naval and air force patrols around the island in recent months.
Tsai’s administration has remained defiant however, and has received support from Washington in the form of defence assistance and the planned opening this month of a new de facto US embassy in the island’s capital Taipei.