China is expected to use its economic power against any American actions aimed at helping Taiwan regain diplomatic allies around the world.
Mainland China considers the island of Taiwan a rebel territory. The two sides have had separate governments since the end of China’s civil war in 1949.
Officials in Taiwan note that China has pushed countries that still have diplomatic ties with the island to change sides.
On Friday, the United States said it had recalled diplomats from three countries that have cut ties with the government in Taiwan.
The State Department identified the three as the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama. The department said the recall was to “discuss ways in which the United States can support strong, independent, democratic institutions and economies throughout Central America and the Caribbean.”
Proposed law to support Taiwan
Also last week, four members of the U.S. Senate proposed legislation that would downgrade relations with countries that cut ties with Taiwan.
Their bill is called the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act. The senators say the act is designed to strengthen Taiwan’s position in the world. It would give the State Department rights to downgrade relations with countries that cut ties with Taiwan. That could include reducing U.S. aid or military financing.
Some observers, however, note that China is likely to take measures to counter punishments for such countries.
Yun Sun is with the Stimson Center research group in Washington, D.C. She told VOA, “…I think the Chinese will make sure that these countries will be compensated for their punishment.”
She added that, “If it appears that the U.S. punishes these countries and China does nothing, then no other countries in the future would have the same level of incentive…” to cut ties with Taiwan.
Five countries have cut ties with Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016.
Tsai has angered Chinese officials by rejecting a condition that the mainland requires for talks to take place. The Chinese government wants Taiwan to accept that both sides belong to the same country.
Observers expect China to make few comments about countries with diplomatic ties to Taiwan. But they say China is likely to offer money as needed to gain support from Taiwan’s 17 remaining allies.
More than 170 nations recognize mainland China diplomatically and, in so doing, do not recognize Taiwan. China hopes to influence the remaining countries into deciding that it is worth the risk of hurting relations with the U.S.
Lin Chong-pin is a retired professor in Taiwan. He said he thinks China will continue or even strengthen efforts to establish economic and diplomatic ties with Taiwan’s allies.
China already offers diplomatic aid to many countries, especially in Asia and Africa. Its Belt-and-Road development program is to include 65-nations and could cost about $1 trillion. The Chinese government launched the program with the hope of connecting Asia to Europe and even Africa.
Last week, China promised $60 billion in financial support to African nations.
The most recent country to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and establish relations with China is Sao Tome and Principe. China promised $146 million to modernize the country’s airport and to build a deep-sea container port to help increase trade with China.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Ralph Jennings reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
institutions – n. a custom, tradition, or law that is accepted and used by many people
downgrade – v. to lower in quality or value
counter – v. to do something in defense or in answer to something
compensate – v. to provide something good as a balance against something bad or undesirable
incentive – n. something that persuades a person to do something or work harder
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