Taiwan loses friend to China

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The Dominican Republic's severance of diplomatic relations with Taiwan late on Monday is similar to the double-handed ploy observed in Panama's switching of diplomatic recognition to China in June past year, a high-level government official said.

China refuses to maintain diplomatic relations with any country that recognizes Taiwan, a self-governed and democratic island off China's southeastern coast that Beijing considers an integral part of its territory.

China has made blunt shows of force, including military drills in the Taiwan Strait last month that officials said were planned with Taiwan in mind.

China, who won over Panama from Taiwan past year, warned Taipei's remaining allies in March that recognizing Beijing as the "one China" was the "general and irresistible trend".

The switch leaves Taiwan with only 19 diplomatic allies, five of which are in Central America.

"The first meeting occurred in late 2016 in a European nation, while the second one took place in a Latin American country in March past year", the official said.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs took aim at China's spending in its statement this morning (May 1) on the Dominican Republic's decision.

China and Taiwan split during a civil war in 1949.

The Chinese government continues to be critical of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's administration.

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Taiwan's vice president Chen Chien-jen had visited Dominican Republic in August 2016 when he attended the inauguration of president Danilo Medina.

Wu's announcement came after the Dominican Republic's government announced it was establishing diplomatic relations with China and breaking its diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Lee met with Taiwan's ambassadors in Latin America to discuss strategies for not losing more allies.

The news on the Dominican Republic switch, announced in both Beijing and Santo Domingo, drew strong and swift condemnation from Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

Seizing the opportunity, Taiwan signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with the Dominican Republic and gave it 50 high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, also known as Humvees, in February this year, the official said.

The Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, lauded the decision as in line with the trend of the times and history, in comments to reporters in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Defence Industry Development Association said on the weekend that US government officials would not attend a Taiwan-US defence contractors forum in Taiwan next week.

While the United States technically does not recognize Taiwanese sovereignty from China, Washington does have a special relationship with the island and laws in place that require the United States to protect Taiwan from Chinese aggression.

Speaking in March, Wang said it was in the best interests of Taiwan's few remaining diplomatic allies to recognise an "irresistible trend" and ditch Taipei in favour of "one China" ruled by Beijing.