Taipei, May 31 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Thursday that Taiwan will assist Haiti secure a NT$4.5 billion (US$150 million) loan from banks involved in the Republic of China’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) program, refuting rumors that the country is reverting to checkbook diplomacy.
MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) told reporters that the ODA will allow Haiti to secure a loan from Taiwan for its project to build rural power grids on condition that Taiwanese businesses are able to participate in the construction.
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 continued.
This is in no way the checkbook diplomacy financial assistance media outlets have suggested, he noted.
Checkbook diplomacy describes past efforts by Taiwan and more recently China to vie for allies through financial inducements.
The competition underwent a truce of sorts from 2008 to 2016 under the previous Kuomintang administration, but China has poached four of Taiwan’s allies with the help of financial incentives since the current Democratic Progressive Party administration took power in May 2016.
The four allies to shift allegiance to Beijing during that time were Sao Tome and Principe in December 2016, Panama in June 2017, the Dominican Republic at the beginning of this month and Burkina Faso last week.
Lee called helping Haiti with this project a practical matter Thursday morning as development of power grids and agriculture is a main goal for the Haitian President Jovenel Moise and something Taiwan can help with.
(By Elaine Hou and Kuan-lin Liu)