Paraguay leader hails Taiwan as ‘beacon of democracy’

Paraguay leader hails Taiwan as ‘beacon of democracy’

Paraguay’s outgoing leader hailed Taiwan as a “beacon of democracy” Thursday, ahead of a presidential vote that could see his country cutting ties with the island.

“In the face of continued threats and tense situation, the Taiwan people have not given up their resolve for peace, and continued to play the role of a beacon of democracy in the region,” President Mario Abdo Benitez said on a visit to the island.

The South American nation is one of only 14 countries that officially recognise Taipei over Beijing, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to seize it.

But Taiwan’s decades-old diplomatic ties with Paraguay are at risk with opposition candidate Efrain Alegre reportedly saying he would switch recognition to Beijing if elected in April’s presidential polls.

Latin America has been a key diplomatic battleground for China and Taiwan since the two split in 1949 after a civil war.

China has spent decades successfully convincing Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to switch recognition, gaining eight in recent years — most recently Nicaragua.

Taiwan accused Beijing of trying to lure Paraguay away in exchange for Covid-19 vaccines in 2021 when the country was struggling with soaring infections.

At that time, Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu said Beijing’s “vaccine diplomacy” had generated a lot of pressure on Abdo Benitez’s government, while the political opposition was “very willing to link up with China”.

At a separate event on Thursday, Abdo Benitez reiterated his “firmest support” for Taiwan and pledged to be its “most staunch friend”, whether as a president or former head-of-state.


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