December 4, 2019 / 12:33 AM / 11 days ago

UPDATE 1-China signs on for 'gigantic' investment in El Salvador infrastructure

(Adds details; paragraphs 8-9, 11-13)

By Nelson Renteria

SAN SALVADOR, Dec 3 (Reuters) - China will help build several major infrastructure projects in El Salvador, including a stadium and water treatment plant, the two nations said on Tuesday, signaling its growing role in the region after El Salvador cut ties with Taiwan.

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, who met his counterpart Xi Jinping in China this week, said the investment represented a “gigantic, non-refundable cooperation” for the small central American nation.

He did not disclose the planned investment amount.

The pact provides for China to help build a large sports stadium, multi-story library and water treatment plant.

China, the world’s second biggest economy, will also assist at coastal tourist sites, by building streets, parks and a water system along the beaches known as Surf City, and restaurants and shops on the Puerto de la Libertad pier.

The projects offer the strongest signal yet of El Salvador’s embrace of close relations with China.

El Salvador “adheres to the principle of one China, categorically rejects any act that goes against this principle and any form of ‘independence of Taiwan”, the nations said in a joint statement.

El Salvador will also participate in Xi’s signature Belt and Road initiative, which envisions massive infrastructure spending to link China to the rest of Asia and beyond, they added.

China is ready to import more goods from El Salvador, including sugar and coffee, its foreign ministry cited Xi as telling Bukele.

El Salvador severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in August last year, after the Dominican Republic and Panama switched sides to China.

China’s diplomatic push in central America has angered the United States, which said last year China was offering economic inducements to seek domination in the region.

Taiwan now only has formal diplomatic ties with 15 countries, including Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in central America.

Taiwan’s foreign minister said last month that China had failed to deliver promised aid worth $8.6 billion and instead “exported corruption” to nations that had switched ties to Beijing from Taipei. Beijing said this was a smear. (Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Michael Perry)

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