By Ashna Butani
The long-standing One-China policy, of including Taiwan as an inalienable part of China, is bolstered with Panama’s diplomatic move. With the belief that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing China, Panama cut ties with Taiwan. A joint statement unveiled by the governments of China and Panama asserts Panama’s belief in this principle.
Breaking and making relations
Taiwan, who has been trying to compete with China for allies, received a severe blow after the Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela decided to establish full democratic links with China. The offended Taiwanese government retaliated by saying that it was disappointed with Panama and would not compete with China in a ‘diplomatic money game’.
China, on the other hand, enthusiastically signed a joint communique. China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, met his counterpart from Panama, Isabel De St Malo at a joint press briefing. The historic moment not only opened a new chapter in the history of China-Panama relations but also reawakened tensions between China and Taiwan.
China-Taiwan conflict resurges
The conflict dates back to the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, when the defeated Nationalists retreated to Taiwan, and the victorious Communists claimed Chinese sovereignty. After years of unabashed hostility, tensions eased in the 1980’s as China put forward its claim of ‘one country, two systems’. The conflict seeped through layers of agreements and disagreements, over the years.
After the 2016 elections, China has been suspicious of Tsai Ing-Wen, who is believed to push for the island’s independence. In December 2016, Sao Tome and Principe ended diplomatic relations with Taipei. The Chinese government has successfully lured away most of Taiwan’s allies. With both sides unwilling to come to a conclusion, Panama’s diplomatic decision obliterates any hope of agreement between China and Taiwan.
Taiwan’s isolation equals Taiwan’s end?
Panama may be the latest country to side with Beijing but is unlikely to be the last. The island is now left with only 20 diplomatic ties, 11 of which are Latin American and Caribbean. Since the 1990’s, the number of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies has fallen by 10. The impending chaos is likely to serve as the first step in Taiwan’s acceptance of the One-China policy.
Irrespective of Taiwan’s disinterest in reuniting with the mainland, China stays dedicated to making Taiwan a part of itself. The mainland has never refrained from the threat of force in order to win Taiwan. Taiwan has matured into a democracy but the continuing rise of China can have major consequences on the island. Moreover, the dwindling number of Taiwan’s allies certainly proves to the world that the ball is in China’s court.
Featured Image Source: Visual Hunt
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