As Haiti was devasted by the magnitude 7 earthquake – both casualty and economy – developed countries and the world’s superpowers all came in to its aid in rescue. But two of these donors, China and Taiwan, are after something else besides just relief. They’re after diplomatic ties.
Ever since the split-up of 1949, the People’s Democratic Republic of China (PDRC or mainland China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan; Formosa) have been struggling for identity. Both claim the collective name China. PDRC have been successful in claiming the name from the international community, but Taiwan have been defiant. Acting as its own country, having its own identity.
But for a country to stand by its own feet, it needs recognition. The more economically powerful among the two, PDRC, have threatened to cut all ties to any nation that recognizes Taiwan as a separate, independent state. The United States, being a major trade partner to China, do not have the guts to stand up against China. Despite its strained political relations, and conflict of beliefs. So too are the major powers in Europe and Asia. PDRC claims sovereignty over the island known as Formosa.
Taiwan have resisted PDRC influence in recent years though, its’ previous leader – Chen Shui-bian – architected the country’s economic boom. Giving it its own monetary muscle to flex to resist PDRC even better. And their prosperity made them able to improve their defense. He imported a total of US$20 billion arms from the United States.
Unfortunately, despite all these their capabilities are still inferior to their mainland arch-rivals. PDRC’s influence has left Taiwan with just 23 diplomatic allies. Twelve of which, are small islands in the Carribean and in Latin America. They were able to persuade Costa Rich to shift sides in 2007.
Their battleground at the moment appears to be Haiti. Taiwan is considers writing-off the earthquake-ravaged nation’s debt, in addition to US$5 million in aid and a total of 56 rescue workers and aide workers to be sent to help with the rescue and medical operations. Haiti is a Taiwan diplomatic ally though, but moves from the PDRC could persuade the country to shift recognition to it instead.
PDR China have already won support from most of Africa, pampering the impoverished continent with infrastructure and lucrative trade agreements. Algeria are poised to enjoy their first luxury mall as well as build Africa’s longest continuous highway. Angola, Ethiopia and Somalia have also enjoyed trade packages with PDRC, exporting as much as $2B each into PDR China and importing as much from it as well. PDRC face controversy however in their businesses with some African countries, such as Sudan and Nigeria. Human rights group claim that they provide them with the firepower to fuel civil wars. Reports suggest that arms are being trade in exchange for Sudanese oil or diamonds from Nigeria. But fruitful businesses have continued. In this continent, Taiwan only have four diplomatic allies: Burkina Faso, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe and Swaziland. All of which are third world countries.
With the Taiwanese president belongs the burdensome task of nurturing these allies, if not maintaining them. Visit to its only European ally, The Holy See or The Vatican, is limited since they have to pass through Italy first, a PDRC diplomatic ally. The very first visit of a Taiwanese president and the only time as well to the Vatican was in 2005, at Pope John II’s funeral where Italy had an agreement with the Holy See to allow all guests to attend the funeral without any hindrance. Taiwan pamper the countries that recognize them as well with their own investments, but China overshadows them all the time. It may not be long before another ally is added to the casualty list of countries that have shifted support between the two Chinas. Something that would make their independence struggle even more difficult.
Taiwan remains persistent to its ambition of becoming its own state, however. And PDRC have threatened to attack once they declare independence. None of Taiwan’s allies are in a position, or have the power, to come to their aide if an attack happens. And though no armed conflicts has ever happened between the two sides in decades, they have been virtually in combat all those years. They engage in something like a diplomatic civil war. It is a telling test as to how their disputes are going to be resolved.
In my opinion, there is no point in not having two separate states. The two countries are able both economically and politically to stand up on their own. All the Republic of China, or Taiwan, need right now is to have the international community’s backing. Only after they have resolved the only hindrance to their independence, which is the People’s Democratic Republic of China.