Ahead of this week’s first annual China-oriented trade exposition in San Salvador that is expected to include over 50 Chinese business representatives, President Mauricio Funes of El Salvador said Monday that his administration would explore establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Funes added that he would do so only if it were in the economic interests of his country.
Presently, El Salvador has diplomatic relations with the Republic of China—commonly referred to as Taiwan. In accordance with Chinese policy, China refuses to engage in diplomatic activity with any nation that acknowledges Taiwan. For Taiwan, it fears that El Salvador will repeat what Costa Rica did in 2007: break off relations in favor of a partnership with China that includes greater economic benefits from access to a substantially larger market. However, despite Costa Rica’s actions, all other Central American countries have chosen to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
A Taiwanese source confirmed Tuesday that Taiwan’s ambassador to El Salvador received guarantees that diplomatic relations would not be broken off. The same source noted that any of China’s attempts to poach Taiwan’s allies would have a negative effect on Taiwan-China relations, which have improved dramatically in recent years under the presidency of Ma Ying-jeou.