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Haiti visits Taiwan

A high-level delegation including President Jovenel Moïse and First Lady Martine Moïse are currently on a weeklong visit to Taiwan. The Haitian government seeks to solicit aid for its energy program back at home as well as reassure the Taiwanese government of their commitment to the partnership that has flourished over the years. To counter mainland China’s increasing influence in the world in general, and in the developing world, the Taiwanese are scrambling to keep the remaining few friends they have across the world.

 

During the visit, the President and his entourage will meet with Haitian students there, while on Tuesday, President Moïse will meet with his counterpart, Mad. Tsai Ing-Wen. As part of his energy policy which prioritizes providing 24 electric power across the nation, The Haitian President will visit the Taiwan Power Company, the Wen Shan power substation and the Ming Tan Hydroelectric power plant. Other places the delegation is scheduled to visit are; the Taiwan Rice Castel, the Taichung Science Park, DuaHo Rice Farm in Taoyuan, the Child Welfare League Foundation, the Committee of Women’s Rights Promotion and National Cultural and Creative Gift.

 

President Moïse’s energy policy intends to use all sources of energy, including biomass, wind, hydro energy and solar energy and sees Taiwan as a viable partner in achieving this goal. Economy and Finance Minister, Jude Alix Solomon revealed that the Taiwanese government has granted a loan of US$150m towards this endeavor. Innocent as these gestures may look, they belie a nasty war of influence between China and Taiwan for prominence in Latin America. Just last week, the Mayor of Port-au-Prince, Youry Chevry signed a US$4.7billion contract with two Chinese companies, Southwest Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institute and Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) to rebuild the capital city. The Chinese then offered to throw in a 600-megawatt power plant, a 559-mile water distribution network, a sewage system with wastewater treatment plants, reconstructed roads, street security cameras, and a reconstructed downtown with a rebuilt city hall, parks and markets, all projects that were not part of the initial request by the city. This move, followed by the Dominican republic’s decision to align its business interests with mainland China, effectively ending diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. Also last week, Burkina Faso’s decision to also engage in business partnerships with the mainland Chinese has ceased the Taiwan’s attempt to salvage any relationships left in the world that would prove their country’s legitimacy as an independent nation.

 

Maybe the most important outcome of this diplomatic tug of war is that Haiti may find itself in a strategic position to use its newfound prominence to advance its agenda and political influence, especially with the United States. Despite the visit to reassure Taiwan of their friendship, the president’s spokesman, Wilson Laleau noted that Haiti is not closing the door to another partnership with China, because in the current environment, even though Taiwan is a longtime friend, Haiti is now looking towards satisfying its national interests. The new global environment calls for alliances and partners who are willing to come and invest with Haiti, because “we are not looking for traditional aid, or people who are going to give charity, because that’s what got us into what we’re in”.

 

These changes in the Taiwan-China saga are being closely watched by the US which has made its position clear about China’s expanding geopolitical influence.  US Senator Marco Rubio told a Haitian delegation last week that US$1 investment from Taiwan is better than US$3 of investment from China because “three dollars from Chinese investments not only will not flow to you, but it comes with all kinds of strings attached that are going to be problematic for decades to come.” Critics believe that this is a unique time for Haiti to use its new-found leverage to negotiate additional assistance from the US. While other’s do not think the current government has the requisite skills to negotiate at the world stage. A government official who spoke on condition on anonymity stated that there should be a debate about the decision to switch allegiances to China from Taiwan but in Haiti, there is no such thing and no debate to be had about the doing benefits with either Taiwan or China. The Haitian government’s position has been to align its policies with US interests or take the risk and go with China because of the need to finance the government’s projects.

 

In other news, the co-founder of Tweeter and co-creator of Square. Jack Dorsey will be in Haiti from June 21 through June 23 for the second edition of the Haiti Tech Summit, to be held at the Royal Decameron Resort. The event will be dedicated to entrepreneurship and technology, and will bring together entrepreneurs, innovators and other influential personality from Haiti and abroad. Jack Dorsey himself confirmed his attendance in a tweet confirming the news which was originally tweeted by the Haitian economist and CEO of Banj, Marc Alain Boucicaut. The Haiti Tech Summit, first of its kind is gaining popularity in the Haitian entrepreneurial ecosystem and brings together influential personalities to the island. The project was an initiative of the Global Startup Ecosystem, which drives the largest online digital accelerator in emerging markets. The aim is to revitalize Haiti’s entrepreneurial economy, and to also reposition it as a global study of catalyzed innovation in an emerging country.

 

Finally, the Grenadiers are set to play the Albiceleste (Argentina) at the Boca Juniors stadium in Buenos Aires, tonight Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 7pm in what appears to be the final preparation for the Argentine team before they embark on the mission to conquer the world cup for the third time in Moscow. While the Argentines are using this encounter to prepare themselves for Moscow, the Grenadiers are also using it to prepare for the CONCACAF nations league. The line up as of now includes Johnny Placide in the goal, Carlens Arcus, Ricardo Adé, Zachary Hériveau and Alex Christian Jr in defense; Fabien Vorbe, Steven Saba and Bryan Alcéus in midfield, and Michael Cantave, Duckens Nazon and Richelor Sprangers as strikers. The coach Marc Collat compared the Argentine team to a wounded animal because of their 6-1 loss to Spain earlier. Haitians across the nation and the diaspora are looking forward to this historic match and are confident that the boys will deliver.

Dela Harlley

 

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