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Last updated: 27 April, 2007 - Published 21:40 GMT
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China halts St Lucia work

John Compton
John Compton's government had switched back to recognising Taiwan
Work on Saint Lucia’s new multi-million dollar psychiatric hospital which is being built by the Chinese ground to a halt.

The halt took place at the end of a week which saw St Lucia's new government recognise Taiwan - a country China views as a renegade province.

China has warned Castries earlier this week about making the diplomatic switch.

By Friday, work had come to a halt on a 140-bed psychiatric hospital, which had been intended as part of a larger medical complex.

China had also been slated to help build the new general hospital but those plans were also in limbo Friday.

Completing the facility

Health Minister Stephenson King told BBC Caribbean that although the government had not been officially informed of stoppage on the hospital project through the Chinese embassy, it had been notified of a work stoppage by the clerk of works at the site.

"This means that the govt of St Lucia has the responsibility to complete the facility one way or another, " Stephson told BBC.

The Ministry of Health will be examining its options in the wake of the decision

Ties depends on ruling party

St Lucia was Taiwan's diplomatic ally for thirteen years, but broke those ties in 1997 under the Labour government, in favour of formal links with Beijing.

St Lucia's foreign Minister said earlier that 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 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 (People's Republic of China)".

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