The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) will open a branch in Taipei, the bank and Taiwan‘s government said on Friday, the first international government organisation to open an office on the Chinese-claimed island.
Taiwan is largely shut out of global bodies such as the United Nations due to pressure from Beijing, which considers the island its own territory.
Since 1992 Taiwan has been a member of CABEI, along with four of the island’s diplomatic allies — Belize, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala.
CABEI’s other members include Panama, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and El Salvador, which previously also maintained formal ties with Taiwan.
Taiwan’s central bank said the new office will help attract foreign investment and increase the island’s international visibility.
The bank was founded in 1960 and is based in Honduras. Its other members are Mexico, Cuba, South Korea, Argentina, Colombia and Spain, none of which officially recognise Taiwan.
“The opening of our first branch in Asia fills us with enthusiasm because we are able to expand into a new continent that is a world power,” CABEI Executive President Dante Mossi said in a statement.
The United States has watched with alarm as China slowly whittles away at Taiwan’s allies in Central America, and has accused Beijing of offering underhand economic inducements, which China denies.