Panama’s New Friendship With China Angers Taiwan

By Austin Cherkas | CHINA

On June 13, 2017, the Panamanian Government made a stunning statement that shocked the political world, insisting that there was only one China, and therein not acknowledging the independence of Taiwan.

As China becomes more important in the international community, more countries have been switching to a pro-China stance in regards to Taiwan. China states that Taiwan is a breakaway province, which is what most countries agree with as well.

The United States of America is the most active user in the Panama Canal, but what is more interesting is that China is the country that uses the Canal the second most often. China’s heavy usage of the Panama Canal is a major reason why Panama switched sides. Every ship that passes through the Panama Canal has to pay $72 for each Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU), and the max amount of TEUs a ship can carry across is 4,400 units. Panama is making a large sum of money from Chinese Ships, which easily explains the switch of allegiances.

Only 20 countries recognize Taiwan as of now. Most of them are in Central and South America. Panama’s change in diplomatic status might cause other countries in the area to also retract their relationship with Taiwan.

Taiwan is angered with Panama’s actions. The Foreign Minister of Taiwan, David Tawei Lee, made a statement, calling Panama a “bully” while “ignoring the many years of friendship”.

Taiwan can not compete with the Beijing authorities for money diplomacy.                                                  -David Tawei Lee

After the election of Tsai Ing-wen, President of Taiwan, the Beijing Government increased the political isolation of Taiwan. This is due to Tsai Ing-wen’s unclear stance on the “One China Policy”, which was an agreement signed in 1992 that states that there is only one state called “China”, despite the existence of two governments that claim to be “China”. China’s new objective, as a result, is to further the economic and political isolation of Taiwan, in hopes that Taiwan may be forced to rejoin China.

Just like we need friends, so does every country or territory. Without friends, people die, and without allies, countries die. Taiwan is running out of friends, and with more Chinese pressure in the international community, that will only escalate. Will Taiwan be able to survive? Only time can tell.

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-friendship-doctor/201003/do-you-need-friends-survive

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-40256499

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/central-america/panama/articles/Panama-Canal-in-numbers/

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