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Asia Minute: Taiwan Loses Another Diplomatic Partner

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

China has scored a quiet victory this week in the world of international diplomacy. Panama has announced it will break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan—and start them with Beijing. HPR’s Bill dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


There’s an ongoing global scorecard in diplomatic relations with the Chinese.

Countries make a choice: recognizing the government in Taiwan – the Republic of China or the government of mainland China—the People’s Republic of China.

Since Tsai Ing-Wen became president of Taiwan last year, two countries have switched their recognition to mainland China.

In December, the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe changed, and this week it was Panama—the first country Tsai visited as president.

This diplomatic switching has been going on for decades.

Back in 1971, the United Nations dropped Taipei in favor of Beijing. The United States did the same eight years later. The numbers recognizing Taiwan have been dropping ever since.

20 countries have diplomatic relations with the Taipei government, and that’s counting the Vatican as a country.

Most are in the Caribbean and Latin America—in Africa; there are Burkina Faso and Swaziland.

And then there are a series of Pacific Islands that recognize Taiwan: Kiribati, Nauru, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

On Tuesday, President Tsai went on television and said she was disappointed with Panama—and as for China, she said “we are a sovereign country. This sovereignty cannot be challenged or traded.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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