Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

Populist takeover: Italy approves unprecedented coalition

Read more

FOCUS

Young Nicaraguans lead protests against President Ortega

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Opera singer Lawrence Brownlee, Snow Patrol & Natalie Prass

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn: 'Either we import stability, or we export instability'

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

From Italy to Cyprus via Hungary: A look back at key events in Europe

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US-China trade war is 'on hold'

Read more

#TECH 24

Is GDPR a good thing for EU tech companies?

Read more

PERSPECTIVE

'The internet is like water, we need to help children understand how to swim'

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Horse massacres in Iran, fake news turning deadly in India, and Ivory Coast's drought

Read more

Taiwan stresses Central America ties with navy visit

© AFP / by Julia RIOS | Members of the Taiwanese navy line up in front of one of three Taiwanese Navy warships, docked at the Corinto port in Nicaragua

CORINTO (NICARAGUA) (AFP) - 

A Taiwanese navy flotilla docked in Nicaragua on Monday in a high-profile visit highlighting ties with Central America and the Caribbean that are shrinking as China presses countries in the region to drop diplomatic relations.

The three vessels -- described as being on a training mission -- powered into Corinto, a port town on Nicaragua's Pacific coast, in a visit "to strengthen the ties of friendship," Nicaraguan officials and Taiwanese diplomats said.

Some of the 800 crew members who disembarked put on a Taekwondo martial arts display after an inspection by Nicaraguan military brass.

The warships were Pan Shi, a modern and sleek Fast Combat Support Ship, Pan Chao, an older, US-designed frigate, and Kuen Wing, a more recent, French-made stealth frigate.

They were to stay in port for three days, with the crew of officers, sailors and cadets participating with the Nicaraguan military in joint training activities, the Taiwanese embassy said.

It was the sixth time Taiwan has sent a "friendship flotilla" to Nicaragua.

After Nicaragua, Taiwan's navy ships were to go on to make stops in the Marshall Islands, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.

Taiwan is gradually running out of ports of call as China -- which considers Taiwan a renegade province that will one day be brought back under Beijing's control -- presses countries to drop relations with Taipei.

Half the countries with which Taiwan has bilateral diplomatic relations are in Latin America and the Caribbean. And it is slowly losing ground there.

In June last year, Panama cut ties with Taiwan to open relations with China instead. Costa Rica did likewise in 2007.

- Assertive China -

The parts of Latin America that still have ties with Taiwan are the Central American countries of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; the Caribbean states of Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic, and Santa Lucia; and the South American nation of Paraguay.

Across the region, China's increased investment and a more assertive foreign policy are being felt both economically and politically.

That trend has unsettled the United States, which views the Chinese interest as encroachment in a region that it once regarded as its backyard.

US President Donald Trump is to attend a summit of leaders across the Americas in Peru on Friday and Saturday.

White House officials said part of his focus would be on pushing back against "external economic aggression," taken to mean China's growing investment in the region.

by Julia RIOS

© 2018 AFP