A presidential candidate from El Salvador's major opposition party said Thursday that his country's decision last month to sever its decades of diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China lacked transparency.
"I was taken by surprise," Carlos Calleja of the opposition National Republican Alliance (ARENA) said at a conference hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington D.C.
He said the Salvadoran government's decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China was a "curve ball" that he did not see coming until the day before the announcement was made on Aug. 21.
The biggest issue was the lack of transparency, Calleja said, raising the question of why the Salvadoran ruling party took such a decision ahead of his country's presidential election in February 2019.
In general, the matter was handled badly as there was also a lack of diplomacy in El Salvador's communication with Taiwan, he said.
Calleja, however, dodged a question on whether he would seek to resume diplomatic relations with Taiwan if he was elected president, saying he would "nurture" El Salvador's trade relations with Taiwan.
If elected, Calleja said, he would implement a diplomatic policy "based on mutual respect, transparency and the best interests of the Salvadoran people."
He also expressed thanks to Taiwan, saying it had assisted with El Salvador's development over the past decades and that he would continue to regard Taiwan as a good friend.
On Aug. 21, Taiwan announced an end to its 85 years of diplomatic relations with El Salvador after the latter decided to switch diplomatic recognition to China, leaving Taiwan with 17 formal allies.
Since Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (???) took office in May 2016, five of its allies have switched recognition to China, allegedly on promises of financial assistance or loans.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel