Bolton Speaks to El Salvador President-Elect About ‘Predatory’ China

February 13, 2019 Updated: February 13, 2019

SAN SALVADOR—El Salvador’s President-elect Nayib Bukele spoke by phone on Feb. 13 with U.S. National Security advisor John Bolton, who said he requested cooperation to counteract what he called the “predatory” expansion of China.

Bukele, the first candidate not from the poor Central American country’s two civil war-era parties to win a presidential election in a generation, said that his government would be a strong U.S. partner to the United States.

“The United States will find in El Salvador, not only an ally, but also a friend,” Bukele wrote on Twitter.

Relations with Washington suffered under the outgoing government of the left-wing Faribundi Marti National Liberation front (FMLN), the party of El Salvador’s former guerrilla movement, which established relations with China at the expense of Taiwan in August.

Bolton criticized the benefits that El Salvador received after establishing diplomatic relations with China.

“We discussed ways to strengthen the U.S.-El Salvador friendship and to collaborate to restore democracy in Venezuela and counter Chinese predatory practices in the hemisphere,” Bolton said.

A Bukele aide said last week that the president-elect was evaluating the value of its relations with China.

Presidential candidate Nayib Bukele of the Great National Alliance (GANA) gestures to his supporters after official results in downtown San Salvador, El Salvador on Feb. 3, 2019. (Jose Cabezas/Reuters)

Diplomatic Switch to China from Taiwan

On Aug. 20, 2018, El Salvador announced in a nationally televised speech its decision to break ties with Taiwan and instead established relation with China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The decision has prompted an outcry from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai blamed pressure from the CCP for El Salvador’s decision at a news conference on Aug. 21, saying that it was another example of how the Chinese regime has tried to exert pressure over Taiwan to reduce the island nation’s international recognition.

Taiwan is a full-fledged democracy with its own constitution, elected officials, and military; Beijing considers the island nation a renegade province that one day will be united with the mainland, by military force if necessary.

The Chinese regime has strategically established alliances with nations that have had diplomatic ties with Taiwan—by giving large sums in loans and investments—as a way to pressure them into recognizing only “one China.”

The United States keeps unofficial relations with Taiwan, a source of tension with the CCP.

By Nelson Renteria. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.