Responding to El Salvador president-elect, China denies it meddles
By Nelson Renteria
SAN SALVADOR, March 14 (Reuters) - China on Thursday
rejected comments by Salvadoran President-elect Nayib Bukele,
who accused the Asian power of not playing by the rules and
intervening in other nations' affairs.
Bukele, a political outsider who was elected in February as
the Central American nation's next president, has questioned
whether El Salvador should maintain diplomatic relations with
In August, El Salvador broke ties with Taiwan to establish
relations with China, following the Dominican Republic and
Panama. China later offered El Salvador about $150 million for
social projects and 3,000 tons of rice to feed thousands of
Salvadorans struck by a drought.
"China does not play by the rules; they do not respect the
rules," Bukele said on Wednesday at the Washington-based
Heritage Foundation. "They develop projects that are not
feasible, leaving countries with huge debt that cannot be paid
back and use that as financial leverage."
"They are not a democracy, but they intervene in your
democracy," Bukele added.
The Chinese embassy in El Salvador issued a statement on
Thursday responding to Bukele's comments, saying cooperation
between China and El Salvador would not be a "debt trap but
instead a sweet deal for both nations."
"China never looks to intervene in the internal affairs of
other nations, but always opens and develops diplomatic
relations with all countries, just as is the case with El
Salvador," the statement said.
Bukele has been critical of the benefits that El Salvador
received after establishing diplomatic relations with China.
U.S. National Security adviser John Bolton tweeted that he
and Bukele reaffirmed strong friendship between their countries
on Thursday. "We are eager to identify new opportunities for
foreign investment, improve security, counter Chinese predatory
practices, & increase support for Interim Venezuelan President
Guaido," Bolton said.
The White House warned in August that China was luring
countries with incentives that "facilitate economic dependence
and domination, not partnership."
El Salvador's relations with Washington suffered under the
outgoing government of the left-wing Faribundi Marti National
Liberation front (FMLN), the party of the country's former
The current Salvadoran government of Salvador Sanchez Ceren
has defended its decision to open relations with China and
accuses Bukele of receiving orders from the United States to cut
ties with the country.
Bukele will take office in June. "We are convinced that
President-elect Nayib Bukele, with the wisdom and courage of a
great young leader, will make the right decision," said China's
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria, writing by Anthony Esposito;
Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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