China's economic influence leaves Taiwan searching for allies


Nearly 70 years after setting up a “temporary” home in Taipei, the Taiwanese government appears increasingly isolated due to proactive internationalist activity by the Chinese government in Beijing.

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On August 20, El Salvador became the latest country to switch allegiances to China, prompting Taiwan’s government to sever ties with the Central American state. This took place while President Tsai-ing wen [pictured] was on a tour of Latin America.

Taiwan’s government, whose formal name is the Republic of China, is the largest entity not to be a member of the UN. It has lost diplomatic links with Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Panama since its current government took office in 2016.

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With Swaziland now the only African country to recognize Taiwan’s independence from China, many observers have attributed the recent collapse in support from traditional allies, mainly smaller developing economies, to the increased influence Beijing is exerting through major infrastructure projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

On August 21, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu said China’s approach constitutes “debt-trap diplomacy” and continued Beijing’s “relentless suppression of [Taiwan’s] international space,” in remarks carried by state news outlet Taiwan Today.

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Background

  • 1949: the nationalist government of the Republic of China flees to Taiwan in the face of Mao Zedong’s Communist army.
  • 1971: the Taiwan-based Republic of China loses its seat at the UN to the Beijing-based People’s Republic of China.

Chinese infrastructure and influence

China fills a vacuum in the South Pacific from Fiji to Australia

China-Nepal railway project gains momentum after party congress

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