Nations Abandoning Taiwan
Ever since Taiwan split from mainland China in 1949, its status as a semi-independent state has hinged on the support and recognition it has received from its few allies. For over half a century, China has been thwarted in its goal of absorbing Taiwan because other nations, particularly the United States, have recognized Taiwan as a self-governing nation.
But Taiwan was struck a blow in June when its long-time friend Costa Rica reneged on its support and struck up a new friendship with Beijing.
The primary reason for Costa Rica’s newfound willingness to form relations with Beijing was to bolster its economy by tapping into some of China’s extra cash. “We are looking to strengthen the commercial ties and attract investment,” President Oscar Arias said. “China is the most successful emerging economy in the world and soon it will be the second strongest economy in the world …” (Associated Press, June 7).
Despite its divorce from Costa Rica, Taiwan continues to be recognized by 24 nations. But the Taiwanese are concerned that other Latin American nations may follow Costa Rica’s example and chase Chinese cash.
In the wake of Costa Rica’s turnabout, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister James Huang told his embassies in Latin America to reaffirm ties with their host nations, and take “extreme precautions against any further pressure by the Chinese communists” (ibid.). At the same time, China also responded to Costa Rica’s decision by urging other allies of Taiwan to follow Costa Rica’s lead and sever their relationships with the island.
Analyst Andrew Yang of the Taipei-based Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies warned that the decision by Costa Rica was indeed a huge blow to Taiwan’s international standing, and would likely create a chain reaction among at least a portion of its seven remaining Latin American allies. “Probably Nicaragua and Panama are next and then maybe Paraguay,” he said (ibid.).
As small, poor nations such as Costa Rica recognize the economic and political benefits that come from having a close friendship with China, expect them to distance themselves from Taipei and draw closer to Beijing.
Also, watch for U.S. support of Taiwan to weaken as it increasingly becomes distracted by other international pressures and internal division. This will inevitably lead to Taiwan being taken over by Communist China.