Taiwan's 25 friends, who is next?

ESWN reviewed Chen Shui Bian's bribery diplomacy. Meizhongtai asked who is the next to go in the phone book of Taiwan's Foreign Minster. I think I can try to answer MZT's question.

This is an overview of Taiwan 25 friends (plus the 26th, Senegal)
Source: Mike Dowling using CIA's databook 2001 (so PPP was used), wiki

Nation PopulationArea/sq mGDP/PPP($bn)
Burkina Faso13,574,820105,869$14.55


Costa Rica3,956,50719,730


Dominican Rep

El Salvador6,587,5418,124$30.99
Gambia, The1,546,8484,363$2.56


Holy See(Vatican)9210.17$0.02
Marshall Islands57,73870$0.12
St Kitts & Nevis38,83665$0.34
St Vincent & G117,193150$0.34
Sao Tome & P181,565386$0.21
Solomon Is.523,61710,985$0.80

TW26 / world1.77%0.58%0.63%

  • GDP/cap of the 26 is $2884 (in PPP), about 35% of world average ($8070), 1/6 of Taiwan's in $17255 in that year (2001)
  • Literacy 63%, vs world average 77%
  • Life expectancy 58, vs world average 64

Now subtract Senegal, the stats change

  • Pop, area, GDP shares drop to 1.60%, 0.54%, 0.60%
  • GDP/cap improves to $3024
  • Literacy goes up to 65%
  • Life expectancy stays at 58

Senegal was presumably lured away by a better offer from mainland China, which is not entirely a result of more generous bribery.

  • Because a larger nation will have more economic interests in stake (that is why Taiwan cannot bribe India or Nigeria away). The mainland can offer more economic activities and the aid is less costly (comparatively) because some of activities in the form of aids may lead to profitable business.
  • The other reason that bribery diplomacy works for the microstates is because a few million dollars represent a large sum compared with their GDP (PPP is not a good measure in this case, but I am lazy).

Sengal is among the largest of the 26 and not really a micro-state. Some micro-states are so shameless that they switched side as soon as there is a better price.

Therefore, I predict the next to go (other than the well anticipated Holy See) will be those with large population and/or GDP, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Chad and less likely, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica or Paraguay. Losing the latter two away will hit all stats, but losing the African 3 will improve the 'quality stats' such like GDP/cap, literacy and life expectancy.

But there is one important indicator, where they are all equal, which is the UN General Assembly vote. The UNGA was repsonsible for replacing ROC with PRC in 1971. Taiwan's friends have about 12% vote, way higher than any other indicators above. ZHJ commented in my previous post that it is not fair for Taiwan to get a Ukraine-under-USSR-style UN seat. I think it is unfair that these "shameless states" (*) get 12% of UNGA votes.

On a separate note, for those anti-Bush Californians who wanted an independent CA, how about splitting into 5 states and get 8 more seats in the Senate, or 30 states and 58 more seats. CA population is 32x RI's, and 68x WY's.

Note (*). Not all of them have been bribable, Paraguay, Panama, Dominican Rep and Haita's were loyal friends to ROC since 1950s.


Budding Sinologist said...

Great post.

While it would be complicated, it would be worthwhile to consider the strength of the relationship between Taiwan and each nation.

For example, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, and Malawi all have (or have had in the last five years) significant military exchanges with the ROC military, such as studying at each others' academies and /or staff colleges.

Do you think that a few students from Malawi, for example, half way through his degree at an ROC academy would slow down such a move to recognizing China or are such students just pawns and the nation would move with or without them?

Sun Bin said...

I really don't know.

I think Burkina Faso and Chad are probably the most likely next. But CSB also knows it and they are probably trying very hard to defend the situation.

I was only looking at a macroscropic level and try to find some pattern.

Personally I do think CCP should talk to them and find come compromise. This diplomatic war is rather silly. Unfortunately this is only possible when Ma become president.

Sun Bin said...

Perhaps I was too nice to Panama and Paraguay in the post above, 'loyalty' is bought at a high cost.
Most of the 'aids' are low interest or interest free loans, but the principal needs to be returned.

According to Yahoo news, Panama owed Taiwan NT$200M in low interest loan, which has gone dead; Paraguay stopped paying interest in 2001, and now Foreign Ministry is absorbing the bad debt.

ZHJ said...

Hey Sun Bin,
I said it was unfair to give China 2 seats, not LfC. ;)

Anonymous said...

Hey, what about Costa Rica? It too is a Taiwanese ally.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that Ex PM Lee once walked into a Japanese museum and publicly praised one of the Japanese engineers (a local boy) who played a large role during Japan's occupation of Taiwan, or that Taiwanese nationalists have been steadily highlighting areas where Taiwan and Japan have some shared history so as to court Japanese nationalist and to try and sway Japanese public opinion in an effort to draw Japan in betwen China and Taiwan as kind of buffer

Sun Bin said...

sry, i had costa rica.
i think it was lost during the 'cut and paste'.

will fixe it.

Sun Bin said...

you mean Lee Tenghui? he said he is a 'japanese'.