China says Taiwan has ‘an axe to grind’, after Beijing accused of using $3bn aid pledge to woo Dominican Republic

Taiwan has a case of sour grapes, Chinese state media said on Wednesday, after the self-ruled island accused China of using a $3-billion aid pledge to persuade the Dominican Republic to switch long-standing diplomatic ties to Beijing.

China, which denied there were any economic pre-conditions for establishing relations with the Caribbean nation, says Taiwan is simply a wayward province with no right to state-to-state ties.

Taiwan’s government says the Dominican Republic accepted false promises of aid from China.

A Taiwan official told Reuters that China had dangled a package of investments, financial assistance and low-interest loans worth at least $3.1 billion to the country, which shares an island with Haiti to the west.

The overseas edition of China’s ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily said Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party was unfairly trying to cast aspersions on the move.

"Once again they are playing the shirking responsibility game of laying the blame on others, creating tragedy and inciting confrontation, slandering the Dominican Republic’s choice of China with an axe to grind," it wrote in a front page commentary.

However, it added, the real story was that the Dominican Republic abandoned Taiwan because that was the irresistible trend of the times and what the people demanded.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reiterated on Wednesday that no "coercion or trade" was involved, saying the decision was "right and proper, and fair and above board".

The changeover leaves Taiwan with formal relations to just 19 countries, many of them poor nations in Central America and the Pacific, such as Belize and Nauru.

Widely-read Chinese tabloid the Global Times said Taiwan was now a step closer to having no diplomatic allies.

"In the end, Taiwan’s diplomacy will be suffocated," it added. 

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