US representatives warn of Beijing meddling in Haiti

US representatives warned about the ‘potential for Chinese mischief in Haiti,’ and that Beijing might ‘exploit the current chaos’ to its benefit

Two US representatives on Wednesday urged the US Department of State to be wary of Chinese meddling in Haiti following the assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moise last week.

They also highlighted the importance of Haiti’s ties to Taiwan in the letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Haiti is one of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies.

“We are concerned about the potential ripple effects this assassination may have on stability, both within Haiti and across the wider region — as well as the doors it may open to political interference by the People’s Republic of China,” US representatives Scott Perry and Tom Tiffany wrote.

China had refrained from trying to sway Taiwan’s diplomatic allies from 2008 to 2016. In the past few years, amid poor relations between Beijing and Taipei, China has sought to poach nations that have formal ties with Taiwan.

“China is constantly seeking opportunities to pressure these nations to switch their diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing in an effort to exert more political and economic influence on the developing world,” the letter said.

Countries such as Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador have all in the past few years given in to Chinese pressure to cut ties with Taiwan, it said.

The letter also mentioned that some of the gunmen suspected of being involved in the killing of Moise broke into the Taiwanese embassy in Port-au-Prince a day after the murder.

The break-in “raises serious concerns about the potential for Chinese mischief in Haiti, and more specifically, broader efforts by Beijing to exploit the current chaos in an effort to gain a greater foothold in the Caribbean,” they said.

Given the dangers of expanded Chinese influence in the region, they urged Blinken to convey to his counterparts in Haiti — as well as those across Latin America and the Caribbean — the importance of resisting Chinese overtures and of maintaining their ties with Taipei, they said.

The Chinese Communist Party will “exploit any opportunity to advance its political and economic objectives around the world, and will most certainly seek to take advantage of the political turmoil in Haiti to further marginalize US and Taiwanese interests,” they added.

The representatives said they looked forward to learning more about the plan of US President Joe Biden’s administration to contain Chinese expansion in the region and to bolster ties with Taiwan.

In Taipei, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) thanked the US Congress for continuously supporting Taiwan.

The ministry would maintain close contacts with the US Congress as well as the Biden administration to deepen bilateral partnerships, she said.

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