Taiwan’s diplomatic partners are dwindling and turning to rival China. So Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is hoping to strengthen relations with the self-governing island’s remaining allies during a trip to Central America this week.
Tsai arrived in Guatemala on Friday afternoon, walking along a crimson carpet with Guatemala’s foreign minister.
Tsai framed the journey as an opportunity to demonstrate Taiwan’s commitment to democratic values worldwide. In a speech to leaders of Guatemala and Belize shortly before departing on her visit.
“External pressure will not deter our determination to compete on the global stage.” “We will be calm and self-assured; we will not submit but also will not provoke,” said Tsai. Who will also speak with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a stopover in the US.
However, the journey is also intended to strengthen ties between Taiwan in Latin America. As China pours money into the region and pushes its neighbors to cut ties with the self-governed democratic island.
In Guatemala and Belize, Tsai is expected to bring an open checkbook. But in a region under growing Chinese influence, analysts say that Taiwan may already have lost the long game.
“These are symbolic countries.” And I don’t believe Taiwan wants to lose any of them,” University of Miami political scientist June Teufel Dreyer said. “However, if China engages in chequebook diplomacy, I don’t think Taiwan can compete, and it knows it.”
The visit comes just days after Honduras became the most recent nation to abandon Taiwan in favour of closer ties with China.
Honduras follows in the footsteps of Nicaragua, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Costa Rica in ditching Taiwan. In some cases, China was said to have dangled hefty investment packages and loans in exchange for switching allegiances.
As the Asian superpower has sought to isolate Taiwan and expand its power on the global stage. Chinese trade and investment in Latin America has soared.
Between 2005 and 2020, the Chinese invested more than $130 billion in Latin America. According to the United States Institute of Peace. Trade between China and the region has also shot up. And is expected to reach more than $700 billion by 2035.