Guyana abruptly terminated an agreement with Taiwan to open an office in the South American country on Thursday after China urged them to “correct their mistake.”
Earlier on Thursday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry announced it had signed an agreement with Guyana on January 11 to open a Taiwan office, effectively a de facto embassy for the island.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded to the move by saying Beijing hoped Guyana would not engage in official ties with Taiwan, calling on the country to “earnestly take steps to correct their mistake.”
By Thursday afternoon, just hours after China’s response, Guyana’s foreign ministry said it was rolling back the agreement and that it continued to adhere to the “One China” policy.
“The government has not established any diplomatic ties or relations with Taiwan and as a result of the miscommunication of the agreement signed, this agreement has since been terminated,” Guyana’s statement read.
Guyana has traditionally had close ties with China. A former British colony, Guyana recently begun developing offshore oil reserves and is strategically located next to strife-torn Venezuela, a major Chinese ally with which Guyana has a territorial dispute.
For years, China has imposed diplomatic, trade and military pressure on Taipei, marginalizing it in the international community. Taiwan only has formal diplomatic relations with 14 countries, including four Caribbean nations.
China’s CNOOC Ltd is part of a consortium with US oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp and Hess Corp, that has discovered more than 8 billion barrels of recoverable crude reserves in the Stabroek block off Guyana’s coast, turning the country into a new energy hotspot.