Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jun 08 2007

Hasta La Vista, Costa Rica

So we’re down to 24 allies, as of a couple of days ago. In all honesty, there were warning signs galore that this would happen, mainly the WHO vote at the UN when Costa Rica effectively voted against Taiwan’s bid. That wasn’t entirely unexpected, as even the US and Japan had withdrawn their support for the bid after the DPP decided to apply for full membership under the name “Taiwan” instead of observer status. That decision was made more for domestic political consumption, after all, than out of any actual desire to obtain WHO membership. But Costa Rica was in danger even before that. China has been setting up representative offices throughout Central America, just as the ROC has been setting up such offices in countries where it is not officially recognized. From there, Beijing invites local officials to China, where they can be wooed over to the other side.

Another factor was the fact that Costa Rica is up for a rotating seat on the UN’s security council this year, something Beijing can definitely help them out with. The same situation happened with South Africa, which was going up for just such a seat around the time of its switch from Taipei to Beijing. There was more of an effort made to keep South Africa at that time, however. One of the reasons behind the current issue is the fact that our ambassador to Costa Rica, while an earnest and hard-working man I’m sure, doesn’t even speak Spanish. He is a political appointee, closing in on 70, whose ability to be seen as a friend of the people and the government of Costa Rica has been jeopardized by his lack of language skills. Normally, all of these warning signs would have been flagged and the minister of foreign affairs called in for a report to the Legislature, but the current head of that body’s Foreign Affairs Committee, unlike his predecessor, did not exercise his right to do so, instead organizing trips and letting the situation go unchecked. Granted, MOFA should have known what was going on. I’ve heard some say that Beijing secretly appreciates the DPP’s contribution to their cause of reunification, as it sees Taiwan’s economic leveling off and thus the lessening of the gap between the two sides’ previously massive economic disparity as the product of the DPP administration. The DPP and Beijing also share similar views of Chiang Kai-shek and the Republic of China, and the DPP is pushing more and more people away from the idea of Taiwan as “Free China”, which some argue makes for an easier sell for Beijing.

In any case, it’s likely that Costa Rica is just the first of many, as Beijing has deeper pockets and more political influence than Taipei can afford. Countries like Nicaragua, where Ortega proclaimed that he would switch recognition if elected, are still allies today due to massive Taiwanese-funded textile industries there, but that situation could change. MOFA has its work cut out for it, but after reading all of the self-righteous sputtering and railing against Beijing instead of admitting its errors, I just hope that it can keep its focus on actual results, as in the actual retention of allies, rather than just playing political games for upcoming elections at home.

posted by Poagao at 12:11 am  

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