Taiwan vowed on Tuesday to fight China’s “increasingly out of control” behavior after Taipei lost another ally to Beijing when El Salvador became the third country to switch allegiances to China this year.
Taiwan now has formal relations with only 17 countries worldwide, many of them small, less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific, including Belize and Nauru.
Speaking in Taipei, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan would not bow to pressure, describing El Salvador’s decision as further evidence of China’s efforts to squeeze the island, which have included regular Chinese bomber patrols around Taiwan.
In the meantime, FT reports that Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has warned against “a new version of colonialism”, in a pointed expression of Asian unease about China’s increasing economic and political influence in the region. On a four-day state visit to China, Mr Mahathir embarked on the delicate task of renegotiating $23bn in rail and pipeline deals agreed by his predecessor Najib Razak, while trying to secure new trade and investment flows to present to voters back home. The Malaysian leader has sharply criticised the deals as fronts for money transfers to help bail out Mr Najib’s corruption-ridden
1Malaysia Development Berhad fund, and has vowed to renegotiate any “unequal treaties”. “I agree free trade is the way to go, but, of course, free trade should also be fair trade,” he said on Monday at a joint press conference with Chinese premier Li Keqiang. Mr Li had defended free trade in response to a question about the simmering US-China trade war.