Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei visited Taiwan and declared his support for the “Republic of Taiwan” amidst China’s pressure on countries that maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Guatemala is one of the thirteen countries that have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, while Honduras abandoned Taipei for Beijing last month after asking for aid. Giammattei referred to Taiwan as a “brotherly country” and a crucial ally during the welcoming ceremony outside Taiwan’s presidential office. He pledged “absolute support” and ended his speech with a rousing “long live free Taiwan.”
During his visit to Taiwan’s parliament, Giammattei continued to refer to the Republic of Taiwan and received a standing ovation from lawmakers. China views Taiwan as its own territory and has condemned Giammattei’s trip. However, Guatemala has a history of relations with the Republic of China that goes back nine decades, before the government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong’s communists who set up the People’s Republic of China.
Any suggestion that Taiwan is an independent country and separate from China infuriates Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Giammattei’s visit comes after Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president, visited Guatemala less than a month ago.