Taiwan's friends: One down, 24 to go?

Nine months ago, when Senegal recognized the mainland as the sole government representing China, I predicted in a post ,
  • "...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 or Paraguay."
I was right. Taiwan lost another friend yesterday, as the land-locked African country of Chad severed diplomatic relationship with the Republic of China, in favor of the People's Republic of China. The ROC Foreign Minister Michel Lu's speech was comical

  • "Knuckling under China's huge pressure, Chad has decided to restore diplomatic ties with Beijing," foreign ministry spokesman Michel Lu told a midnight press conference. "To safeguard national dignity, sovereignty, the Republic of China, Taiwan government decided to cut off diplomatic ties with Chad and immediately suspended all of the aid projects to the country," Mr Lu said.

Yeah, I said I dumped you before you said you dumped me. Ha!

But Taiwanese people should celebrate for losing such an unreliable friend. All it can do to Taiwan is taking bribe and blackmailing.

Chad has proved itself to be a flip-flopper, incentivized solely by bribe. It befriended ROC in 1962 soon after it became independent, flipped to PRC in 1972 when PRC replaced ROC as the only legitimate government representing China in the UN, flopped back to ROC in 1997 presumably taking an enormous bribe. Then it flip-flopped again yesterday.

  • Ironically, the switch this time is perhaps not a result of bribe because pure bribery no longer works on Chad, as its "mighty" GDP/cap of $1555 puts it in the middle class in Africa where the normal is 1/3 of that level. Moreover, Chad's fortunte has risen steadily with the oil price.
We should not have to wait too long for another to go, either among the shortlist in my previsous post, or Solomon Islands.

One down, 24 to go? I do not really think so.

  1. The number has more or less been at an equilibrium for the past few years. Taiwan's list may drop to below 20, but not likely to fall further. For every 2 friends lost, Taiwan may be able to bribe one back
  2. Because all these micro-states are bribable, as demonstrated by the case of Chad and all previous cases. However, the larger the state, the more expensive it is to bribe (compared with natutal economic benefits for befriending the mainland government, PRC)
  3. So we would see larger states going, and nano-states joining the list. i.e the average population, area, GDP for Taiwan's friend will continue to dwindle, so will the total
  4. Although it is unlikely for ROC to gain new friend when Chen Shui Bian is too busy with his own family's (and his own) multiple scandals, in the rest of his term (if he succeeds in severing his ties with the scandals), hopefully the bleeding will stop when the more mainland-friendly Ma takes position in 2008 - perhaps some agreement will be reached

Tidbits of Chad geography

  • Chad Lake, once the 2nd largest in Africa, has shrunked by 90% in the past 3 decades. An ecological disater
  • Chad is about 3x the size of California (countries near the equators are bigger than they appear on the maps). Chad is the largest country in Taiwan's list of 25, with half a million square miles. The runners-up are Paraguay and Burkina Faso (Upper Volta). Perhaps B.K will be the next to go.
  • Territory dispute with Libya on Aozou Strip, relics of their colonial masters (recognizable by the ruler-straight boundary of the strip), led to 2 wars and an International Court of Justic verdict



Raj said...

24 friends?

You forgot about those countries that have "trade offices" (i.e. embassies) with Taiwan.

Taiwan is never going to get UN recognition simply by buying off states. Economic relations with other countries is its primary goal.

Sun Bin said...


i agree, though trade offices are not embassies. they are sub-status consulates.

apple daily has this commentary (jiang chun nan). i think he made very good points.





Raj said...

Yeah, the "trade offices" aren't officially embassies. But they do most of the important work.

I always thought of them as being embassies/consulates, but with everyone going around with their fingers in their ears saying "LALALA, not listening - not listening", ignoring their status ;)

Michael Turton said...

That's essentially it, raj. Key relationships with Japan and the US remain good. Chad is of no real consequence to Taiwan. The real strategic loss here is not for Taiwan, but for the US as China advances in Africa -- just more fallout from the illegal occupation of Iraq.

Of course Ma is more mainland-friendly. He wants to sell out the island to China!


Sun Bin said...

chad is a burden :)

it is not a loss for US either, china has diplomatic relationship with all but a few of the african countries already. chad is hardly a star among them.

Sun Bin said...

more sensible comments

Anonymous said...

your blog sucks! what a lousy post!

Sun Bin said...

thank you. i have not received that honor for a while.

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