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Taiwan’s Diplomatic Outcomes: Examining Losses and Profits in Frequency Asia

On the one hand, China, the world’s second power. On the other, Taiwan, which does not want to become a Chinese region. And which, to exist on the world stage, needs allies. On tour in Central America, President Tsai Ing-wen will more than ever have to reassure and cajole two small countries, Belize and Guatemala, which are the last states in the region to officially recognize the existence of her country.

It is rumored that a big check would have gone through there… Ten billion dollars. Here is the price of Honduras which returned its jacket a few weeks before Tsai Ing-wen’s trip to Central America. Establishing diplomatic relations with China and cutting its ties with Taiwan, in the game of checkbook diplomacy, the Chinese authorities are unbeatable. And their strategy is working! Little by little – Costa Rica in 2017, El Salvador in 2018, Nicaragua in 2021, Honduras in 2023 – Taiwan’s allies are leaving the ship. And, faced with the Chinese steamroller, we even come to wonder what is holding them back. What speech will Tsai Ing-wen be able to make to the leaders of Belize and Guatemala to convince them to stay in the Taiwanese fold?

« By keeping a diplomatic link with Taiwan, they also ensure a very strong link with the United States, observes Jean-Yves Heurtebise, lecturer at the Catholic University of Fulan, in Taiwan. When a country like Honduras flip-flops or recognizes the People’s Republic of China, it can expect to receive less support from the United States otherwise, and yet there is also a form of diplomatic window dressing for them. and democratic. By remaining on the side of Taiwan, we show our support for democracy, we show our support for an open political regime. For an opposition leader, when the government sides with China, he knows that his democratic representativeness will be threatened. The link between a country that officially recognizes Taiwan and, within the country, the degree of democracy, and therefore the degree of possibility for the opposition to continue to exist, is something that is almost empirically proven. »

Read also: China: why does Honduras have no choice but to break with Taiwan?

Fifty years ago, 71 countries recognized the sovereign existence of Taiwan; they are only 13 today. But the devil is in the details. Take a look at Taiwanese diplomatic activity, and you will find that almost every week, a foreign delegation is received in Taipei. A few days ago, 150 Czech personalities made the trip. And it is symptomatic, underlines Jean-Yves Heurtebise. For three or four years, as some states have turned their backs on it in favor of China, Taiwan has never received so many informal declarations of love. And these postcards very often came from Eastern European countries.

« One of the main things is that China arrived in these Eastern countries with a whole series of projects, of financing, which in reality never really saw the light of day. In addition, of course, in the meantime, there has been the new glaciation of relations between China and the United States and, icing on the cake, the rapprochement between China and Russia, rememberJean-Yves Heurtebise. And one cannot say that the countries of Eastern Europe are very friendly with Russia. So, from the moment when we have an unlimited friendship between these Xi Jinping and Vladimir Poutine and that I am Poland or Lithuania, necessarily I will not look at China in the same way. Xi Jinping visits someone who is now declared a potential war criminal. At the beginning, we had the idea that China was going to allow peace between Ukraine and Russia, nobody talks about it anymore. We thought, when he was in Russia, he would make a phone call to the Ukrainian president, that didn’t happen either. »

To listen also: Taiwan, Beijing and Washington, the infernal trio?

For the moment, nothing to panic about, but Tsai Ing-wen is not eternal. Under the Taiwanese Constitution, she will not be able to stand for re-election in January 2024 and her party is losing momentum. Who knows if his successor will also seek the support of the international community in the face of attacks from Beijing?

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