African island nation Sao Tome and Principe announced Tuesday that it has cut its so-called “diplomatic” ties with Taiwan and acknowledged sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China. Sao Tome is the first country to break “diplomatic” relations with Taiwan since Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen took office. Taiwan “diplomacy” has suffered its first setback after Tsai’s phone call with US President-elect Donald Trump, writes an editorial piece of Global Times.
The Chinese mainland immediately gave positive feedback and stressed the universality of the one-China policy, but kept silent on the mainland’s role in the event.
The diplomatic break is not accidental. It is obviously a punishment for Tsai’s refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus and her other provocations against the one-China policy, including the phone call with Trump. The event is also a response to Trump’s wrong stance on the Taiwan question.
The Taiwan authorities cited Sao Tome’s request for enormous aid for the diplomatic cut off, hoping to divert public attention from political reasons to economic ones and to help Tsai acquit responsibility. Sao Tome asked for $210 million from Taiwan, according to local media reports. In fact, Taiwan has long been providing aid to those small and poor countries that it has “diplomatic” ties with.
The number of countries that have “diplomatic” ties with Taiwan has dropped from 22 to 21. Sao Tome may start a new wave of “diplomatic breaks” with Taiwan.
Taiwan witnessed the first such wave last century when the People’s Republic of China was founded and the mainland joined the UN and established diplomatic relations with the US. The number of countries that Taiwan has “diplomatic” ties with kept declining during Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian’s terms, and stayed at a relatively stable level only during Ma Ying-jeou’s term when Taiwan authorities acknowledged the one-China policy.
Tsai’s rejection of recognizing the 1992 Consensus is a reckless move at a time when Taiwan’s strength gap with the mainland keeps widening. As Taiwan is just the size of a province, it cannot compete economically or diplomatically with the mainland. The Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) push for Taiwan independence will herald Taiwan’s “diplomatic” suicide. Its attempts to make Taiwan look like a sovereign state will however see the island further abandoned and turn its so-called sovereignty into a laughing stock.
Trump calling Tsai “Taiwan president” won’t change the situation that the world acknowledges the one-China principle. In fact, Trump didn’t want to override the policy. He just wanted to use it as leverage and Taiwan as a pawn against the mainland in negotiations for economic interests.
In the near future, Taiwan will predictably have to see some other countries break “diplomatic” ties with Taiwan and seek to establish ties with Beijing. In the changing world, the mainland’s One Belt and One Road initiative well responds to the development needs of developing countries, and the attraction of building a comprehensive relationship with the mainland far outmatches the short-term interests of Taiwan’s economic aid. These countries will hardly stay for Taiwan’s small favors if they are to be accepted by the mainland.
If the DPP continues to pursue Taiwan independence, Taiwan will lose all the countries that have the “diplomatic” ties with it. This is a blind alley and an insult that the authorities forced on Taiwan society.
The reunification of the mainland and Taiwan has already started. When the mainland was frail, Taiwan muddled around in the international community. But now that the mainland has grown strong enough to take Taiwan into its economic orbit, the two have been deemed by the world to be a bigger entity. The earlier Taiwan realizes and accepts it, the earlier its situation will be improved.