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China snatches Dominican Republic from Taiwan in diplomatic blow

The Dominican Republic has announced it has severed ties with Taiwan and switched its allegiance to China, reducing t...

Posted: May 1, 2018 1:04 PM
Updated: May 1, 2018 1:04 PM

The Dominican Republic has announced it has severed ties with Taiwan and switched its allegiance to China, reducing the number of countries with formal relations with the government in Taipei to fewer than 20.

In a hastily arranged ceremony, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his counterpart from the Caribbean country signed an agreement after the Dominican Republic moved to formally cut ties with the government in Tapei.

"Establishing diplomatic ties with China means unprecedented huge potential opportunities for the Dominican Republic's development," Wang 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.

Taipei reacted angrily to the news, which left the island with 19 diplomatic allies around the world -- mostly small and poor countries in the Pacific and the Caribbean, with the Dominican Republic being the largest before the latest development.

"The Dominican Republic has ignored our long-term partnership, the wishes of the people of the Dominican Republic and the years of development assistance provided by Taiwan to accept false promises of investment and aid by China," Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters.

Beijing and Taipei have a long history of rivalry in their efforts to gain economic opportunities and diplomatic support from governments around the world. With China's rapidly rising economic and political might, however, the race is increasingly tilting in China's favor.

Last year, in another major blow to Taiwan, Panama switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. There also have been strong indications that the Vatican -- Taiwan's most symbolically important remaining ally -- may follow suit in the near future.

Long-running rivalry

China and Taiwan -- officially the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China, respectively -- separated in 1949 following the Communist victory on the mainland after a civil war.

The two sides have been governed separately since, though a shared cultural and linguistic heritage mostly endures -- with Mandarin spoken as the official language in both places.

Although both Beijing and Taipei view the island as part of China, neither government recognizes the legitimacy of the opposing side.

There is a strong pro-independence sentiment within Taiwan's current ruling party led by President Tsai Ing-wen, prompting Beijing to harden its stance and stress its long-standing pledge to retake the island by force if necessary.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, the country's most powerful leader in decades who recently vowed safeguard "every inch of our great motherland's territory," ordered ramped-up military exercises around the island last month.

These included live-fire drills, sailing China's only aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait, and dispatching its fighters and bombers for "encirclement patrols."

Analysts see Beijing's warnings not just directed at Tsai's government in Taipei but also at the United States, which has grown closer to Taiwan under President Donald Trump.

Washington has close unofficial ties with Taiwan and provides the island with arms under the Taiwan Relations Act, but the US has formal diplomatic relations only with Beijing.

'Wishful thinking'

In the past few months, the Trump administration angered Beijing by authorizing US manufacturers to sell submarine technology to Taiwan, as well as enacting the Taiwan Travel Act to encourage official visits between the US and the island.

While Tsai has expressed confidence in the Taiwanese military's capability to defend the island, she appeared to extend an olive branch to Beijing on Friday in light of the historic summit between the leaders of North and South Korea -- another divided region in Asia.

Tsai said that she would be willing to hold talks with Xi if such a meeting could take place "on an equal footing and without any political precondition" -- an idea already scoffed by China's state media as "wishful thinking."

"On the one hand, she has been stepping up efforts to make Taiwan 'less Chinese' and carrying out a policy of 'saying no to China while fawning all over the US and Japan'; and on the other hand, she now demands respect for Taiwan from the mainland and wants to talk 'without any political precondition,'" said an online commentary of the People's Daily, the ruling Chinese Communist Party's mouthpiece.

"Does Ms. Tsai think everyone else is a fool?"

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 517138

Reported Deaths: 10306
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison35086559
DeSoto33512432
Hinds32826644
Jackson24938392
Rankin22621405
Lee16564245
Madison14986283
Jones14195248
Forrest13865260
Lauderdale12343323
Lowndes11401193
Lamar10715140
Pearl River9762244
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Hancock7854132
Washington7562169
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Monroe7106179
Pontotoc7071110
Warren6915179
Panola6815136
Neshoba6762210
Marshall6751142
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Union647099
Alcorn5969108
Pike5953157
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Prentiss511086
Tippah498483
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Scott479599
Tate4790118
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Jasper341667
Chickasaw320867
Winston319092
Clay314378
Clarke302095
Calhoun289550
Holmes273789
Smith271452
Yalobusha246547
Tallahatchie233153
Greene225549
Walthall222266
Lawrence221142
Perry214656
Amite210657
Webster207248
Noxubee188943
Montgomery182857
Carroll176341
Jefferson Davis175043
Tunica164139
Benton153539
Kemper145641
Choctaw138027
Claiborne134939
Humphreys132639
Franklin127130
Quitman107928
Wilkinson106539
Jefferson97334
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 849409

Reported Deaths: 16199
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1165042004
Mobile744951384
Madison53605739
Shelby38474373
Baldwin38236590
Tuscaloosa36225644
Montgomery34599784
Lee25712264
Calhoun22652520
Morgan22569411
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Houston17806426
St. Clair16987359
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Elmore15967295
Lauderdale15126308
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DeKalb13099271
Walker12202380
Blount10803193
Autauga10566157
Jackson10237196
Coffee9447192
Colbert9396210
Dale9052192
Tallapoosa7291202
Russell711965
Chilton7101171
Covington6985197
Escambia6972146
Franklin6379108
Chambers5815142
Marion5451132
Dallas5307210
Pike5135109
Clarke485986
Lawrence4857130
Winston4804111
Geneva4658137
Bibb436795
Barbour370880
Butler3446101
Marengo342593
Monroe338666
Randolph338567
Pickens335590
Fayette332785
Henry321566
Cherokee321264
Hale320289
Crenshaw262278
Washington256952
Cleburne255460
Lamar253755
Clay253169
Macon246667
Conecuh193962
Coosa186248
Lowndes178468
Wilcox178338
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Perry141940
Sumter139841
Greene130845
Choctaw94928
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