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Last updated: 25 April, 2007 - Published 11:49 GMT
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St Lucia chooses Taiwan
Taiwan economy
Economically strong Taiwan finds favour with the Compton administration
Government MP's pounded on the table in agreement while opposition members cried "shame, shame", as Saint Lucia officially announced that it will be establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The announcement to parliament by Foreign Minister Rufus Bousquet came during debate on the 2007 budget.

This followed weeks of speculation on Saint Lucia's future relations with China, with which the island established ties during the former Labour Party administration.

Going with Taiwan

The Foreign Minister said the decision to re-establish relations with Taiwan came after what he described as fruitful and frank discussions in Cabinet.

"I confirm that the overwhelming consensus within Cabinet, is for the renewal of full diplomatic relations with Taiwan at the earliest possible opportunity," Mr Bousquet informed the country's parliament.

He said the John Compton-led United Workers Party government considered both Taiwan and China to be friends of the St Lucian people, and said Castries was extending the hand of friendship to both.

Mr Bousquet said the decision to choose Taiwan "should not be construed as a severance of our relationship with the PRC (Peoples Republic of China)".

Beijing is not likely to agree.

Sir John Compton, whose feet-dragging on the issue of relations angered Beijing

It was under a previous United Workers Party government led by Prime Minister John Compton that Saint Lucia first established diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Opposition unhappy

Speaking prior to the announcement by the foreign minister, former attorney general Phillip La Corbiniere of the Labour Party told BBC Caribbean that Taiwan's contribution to St Lucia during an earlier stint of relations hadn't been that significant.

"When the Taiwanese were here before, their main thrust was in the agricultural sector. They were doing a lot of research for example, the questions that I've asked and put on the table is, to what extent did we see a transfer, a real transfer of technology of research to St Lucia. My information is that we did not," the former attorney general told BBC Caribbean.

He also suggested that St Lucia was bucking international trends by throwing its lot with Taiwan which has only about two dozen allies worldwide, including a few in the Caribbean.

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