China, El Salvador establish diplomatic ties

China and El Salvador forged diplomatic ties on Tuesday, leaving Beijing’s rival Taiwan with 17 diplomatic allies.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Salvadoran counterpart Carlos Castaneda signed the joint communiqué on diplomatic relations in Beijing, Xinhua reported.

“The Government of the Republic of El Salvador recognizes that there is but one China in the world, that the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” the communiqué read, according to the report.

There may have been economic incentives for the Central American nation to switch to Beijing, according to South Korean newspaper Seoul Shinmun.

China’s offer of military weapons, support for port construction cost and coverage of El Salvadoran election expenses worked in favor of the decision to cancel diplomatic relations with Taiwan, according to the report.

In Taipei, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said El Salvador had asked Taiwan for an “astronomical sum” of financial assistance to prevent the suspension of bilateral ties.

In response to the request, Wu said all cooperative projects would end and diplomatic staff pulled out of the country.

Beijing may stand to gain from the El Salvadoran decision as tensions continue with the United States over trade and maritime claims in the South China Sea.

“Adhering to the one-China principle is a universally recognized international norm and the consensus of the international community, as well as the fundamental foundation for China to establish and develop relations with any country.

“El Salvador has now stood with the overwhelming majority of the countries in the world by resolutely deciding to recognize and make a commitment to abiding by the one-China principle, and to establish diplomatic ties with China without any preconditions,” Wang said.

Earlier on Twitter U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., had said the El Salvador’s decision would cause “real harm” to its relations with the United States.

By Elizabeth Shim