There are now only 18 countries around the world which still have full diplomatic relations with the Republic of China
May 25, 2018 · 3 min read

On Thursday, the African nation of Burkina Faso announced that it had severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan, leaving the Republic of China with now only 18 allies left in the world, a number that is swiftly shrinking.

In its statement about the decision, Burkina Faso made no direct mention of Taiwan’s rival, the People’s Republic of China, but noted that “the evolution of the world and the socio-economic challenges of our country and region push us to reconsider our position,” and explained that the move to cut ties with Taiwan was based on the government’s desire to “defend the interests of Burkina Faso and its people in the concert of nations.”

The African nation has not yet reestablished relations with China, but it is really only a matter of time.

At an unusually late press conference on Thursday evening, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen declared that Taiwan would not engage in “dollar diplomacy” with China and claimed that Taiwan’s ties to the international community would only grow stronger with increased Chinese pressure.

After Tsai finished with her remarks, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu took the stage to express his “anger” and “sadness” at the situation and announce that he had offered up his resignation over this latest blow to Taiwan’s global power and prestige. Wu only became the foreign affairs minister at the end of February.

He added that Taiwan would immediately halt all cooperative projects and assistance in Burkina Faso and would pull its diplomatic staff out of the country.

Actually, this is the second time that Burkina Faso has cut ties with Taiwan, the first time coming in 1973. The country later resumed relations with Taipei in 1994.

Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou shakes hands with Burkina Faso’s then leader Blaise Compaoré at a meeting in 2012.

With the loss of Burkina Faso, there are now only 18 countries that still recognize the Republic of China, most of them impoverished states in Latin America or the Pacific Ocean. In Africa, where China has made massive infrastructure investments over the years, only Swaziland remains an ally of Taiwan.

Since the election of Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, as Taiwan’s president in 2016, China has only further increased its spending abroad with one of its obvious aims being to further isolate the self-ruled island that it considers a breakaway province.

While Tsai has been in office, four other countries have switched sides from Taipei to Beijing — Dominican Republic, Gambia, Panama, and Sao Tome and Principe. The Dominican Republic’s defection came less than a month ago with the Caribbean nation saying that it was grateful for Taiwan’s help over the years, but explaining that “history and the socioeconomic reality force us now to change direction.”

As usual, Taiwan responded to that setback by vowing that it would not play “dollar diplomacy” with China — knowing full well that if even if it did play, it wouldn’t have a chance of winning.

While chipping away at Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, Beijing has also been busy pressuring companies into accepting its own firm position on the island. This year, international companies from Marriott to Gap to Delta have issued public apologies for violating the “one China” policy and hurting Chinese feelings by implying in one way or another that Taiwan is a country.


China in bite-sized portions

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China in bite-sized portions.


China in bite-sized portions

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