Bernardo Arevalo
Bernardo Arevalo says he is confident he will take office as Guatemala's president in January 2024. AFP

Guatemala's newly elected president, Bernardo Arévalo, said Thursday the country will strengthen its relations with Taiwan despite seeking closer economic ties with China.

China and Taiwan deal with complex issues rooted in historical, political, and ideological factors. Furthermore, China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and considers it a part of its territory under the "One-China" policy.

Guatemala is one of the few countries that still formally recognizes Taiwan, unlike its neighbor Honduras, which switched diplomatic allegiance to China last year. Honduras reportedly received about $2.5 billion in aid from Beijing following the shift.

"We are not choosing," Arevalo said, Reuters reported. "Diplomatic relations are with Taiwan and with the People's Republic of China there are trade relations that will continue to develop."

Arevalo, who took over the office last month, said previously that he would end corruption in the country and make a relationship with China to boost trade. At that time, many people assumed that the connection with China would be built at the expense of Taiwan's trade link.

However, the president has clarified that trade with both countries will continue. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala Carlos Ramiro Martínez said earlier this week that Guatemala will soon reach out to China regarding boosting trade.

The president also spoke about the migration from Guatemala via illegal routes, promising to tackle the problem from the roots. In 2022, around 2,33,000 people left the country and arrived at the United States borders, mostly via the Mexico route.

Arevalo said that his administration is aiming to expand legal migration options by increasing the quotas for temporary worker visas to Guatemalans through an agreement with the United States.

"We want to make this a pretty significant initiative," he said, noting that Guatemala migrants can be employed in the urban and rural areas of the United States to meet the labor demand.

The president last week appealed to Guatemalans to help him break through the entrenched old guard and bring the change he promised during his election campaign.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.