Taiwan just lost another friend.
Dominican Republic drops Taiwan for China
The Dominican Republic announced on Tuesday that it has cut diplomatic ties with the self-ruled island to establish relations with Beijing.
Countries can only establish formal ties with either Beijing or Taipei, with both governments claiming to be the legitimate ruler of China.
Flavio Dario Espinal, legal consultant to the Dominican presidential office, said at a news conference that the change was based on the “needs, potential and future prospects” of the Caribbean nation.
“History and socioeconomics reality now force us to change course,” he said.
The move adds to the international isolation of Taiwan, which is only left with 19 official allies: most of them small, poor nations in Latin America and the Pacific.
Officially known as the Republic of China, Taiwan has in recent years been losing out to Beijing, which is dangling aid packages to win the support of developing nations.
Taiwan’s foreign minister condemned the Dominican government’s decision on Tuesday, adding that the Caribbean nation had ignored past assistance from Taiwan to accept China’s false promises.
A Taiwan Foreign Ministry official said China had offered the Dominican Republic a package of at least $3.1 billion in investments and loans to get them to swear allegiance to Beijing, Reuters reported.
At the end of the Chinese Civil War 1949, China’s Nationalist government fled to Taiwan after losing the mainland to the Communist Party of China. At the time, it was still recognized by the United Nations and non-Communist countries.
But most of them have since ended their ties with Taiwan to form diplomatic relations with Beijing.
The US ditched its formal relations with Taiwan in 1979, although it remains the island’s main ally and the two sides work together unofficially.
China has stepped up putting pressure on Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president of Taiwan in 2016.
This morning, the Dominican Republic switched diplomatic recognition from #Taiwan to #China. In light of this, I want to make clear: We will continue to safeguard our #freedom & #democracy. We will defend our own national interests. We will never bow to pressure from Beijing— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) May 1, 2018
“Going after Taiwan’s allies is just one component of China’s strategy to isolate Taiwan,” says Jonathan Sullivan, a China expert with the University of Nottingham, UK.
“There is still a lot of room for China to increase this pressure, and it is likely that other allies will be targeted, especially if Tsai wins a second term.”
Over the past two years, Beijing has persuaded Panama as well as the African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe to cut their long-standing ties with Taiwan.
More diplomatic changes may come soon.
The Vatican has been in talks with China over the appointment of bishops in the mainland.
The Holy See is likely to cut formal relations with Taipei if it reaches an agreement with Beijing.