Loyalty vs. Money
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Belize and Guatemala reaffirmed diplomatic ties with Taiwan this week following a visit by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen who has been traveling across Central America in an effort to shore up a dwindling number of allies, the Associated Press reported.
The Central American nations are two of Taiwan’s 13 remaining formal allies across the world, a number that has decreased over the years amid Chinese efforts to diplomatically isolate the self-governing island.
Tsai’s visit followed a move by Honduras last month to become the latest country to eschew relations with Taiwan in favor of China, a deal sweetened by a $300 million hydroelectric dam project in central Honduras to be built by a Chinese company.
Beijing considers Taiwan as part of its territory and has employed a mix of diplomatic pressure and economic incentives to coax Taipei’s allies to sever ties.
Honduras’ diplomatic shift also underscores China’s rising role in Latin America: Over the past two decades, Beijing has poured money into the region, investing in major infrastructure and space projects.
According to the United States Institute of Peace, the Chinese invested more than $130 billion in Latin America between 2005 and 2020. Trade between China and the region has also increased, and is predicted to rise to top $700 billion by 2035.
Taiwan, meanwhile, has been treading water.