Strategic loans to Taiwan’s diplomatic allies are designed to create “win-win-win situations” and do not represent a return to checkbook diplomacy to compete with China for those allies’ allegiance, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said.
Taiwan has already pledged assistance to the Solomon Islands to help it prepare to host the 2023 Pacific Games after Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela met with President Tsai Ing-wen and asked Tsai for financial assistance.
Taiwan also reportedly agreed to grant Haiti a low-interest US$150 million loan to help it build rural power grids, according to a Miami Herald report last week. Taiwan’s government has not officially confirmed the deal so far, CNA reports.
At a legislative hearing opposition lawmakers cited local media reports that the Solomon Islands was asking for US$30 million in financial assistance and the report on Haiti and asked Wu if Taiwan was moving back to the “cheque book diplomacy” of the past.
Wu said Taiwan was not, and that Taipei was no match for Beijing and had no intention to compete with it in offering astronomical sums to lure allies.
“We are not competing with China over allies with financial aid. We are genuinely offering help to them,” he said.
Wu said that offering loans can create “win-win-win situations” for Taiwanese businesses and allied nations and their people, but he did not provide any concrete examples.
When pressed specifically on the Solomon Islands issue, Wu would not confirm the sum cited in the reports or if Taiwan was going to provide its Pacific ally with financial aid.
The foreign minister said only that the government “will help the Solomon Islands secure a loan to support the project” and that the details are being discussed.
The government, he said, is offering assistance in other ways, including by arranging to have Taiwanese companies specialised in construction and the design of sports arenas provide briefings to representatives from the Pacific ally.
These sports venues, once completed, will be used not only during the 2023 multi-sports competition but will also serve as training facilities for the Solomon Islands’ athletes, Wu said.
Chequebook diplomacy describes past efforts by Taiwan and China to vie for allies by throwing substantial amounts of financial aid in their direction.