Skip to content

Taiwan: Strong in the U.S. but Weak in Latin America

Taiwan Usa

Leer en Español

[Leer en español]

The United States looks to Australia and Japan for alliances to defend Taiwan in the wake of Navy reports of a growing threat from China to the American democratic ally.

Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi stressed “the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

Accordingly, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will visit Washington in April, where he will discuss the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait with President Joe Biden.

Taiwan - Japan
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, March 2021. (EFE)

In turn, the chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Australia, Michael Goldman, stressed the importance of Australia’s cooperation in Taiwan’s defense.

“We are committed as allies to working together. Not only in making our militaries interoperable and working well together, but also in strategic planning,” Goldman added.

Australia and Japan have been feeling pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 2020, with high taxes on imports of Australian goods to China and military incursions into Japanese waters.

In addition, with the national security law being implemented, China seeks to strengthen its military capability by engaging the citizenry through a more aggressive approach towards American allies.

Taiwan’s importance lies in its democratic system, crucial to American hegemony, and its economic potential. The island is the 17th largest economy globally and also leads in semiconductor production.

The American presence in the region depends on democratic nations that contrast with the growing authoritarianism supported by China. If Taiwan loses diplomatic support and clashes militarily with China, the United States would lose fundamental relevance in the Indo-Pacific and jeopardize the relationship of trust with other vulnerable allies, such as Australia, Japan, or South Korea.

China impuso aranceles de 200% a los vinos australianos en 2020y espera elevarlo a 218%. (Efe)
China imposed a 200% tariff over Australian wine in 2020 and is planning to increase it to 218%. (Efe)
Paraguay might abandon Taiwan for Chinese vaccines

While American allies in Asia point to a defense of Taiwan, those in Taipei are under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic and vaccine shortages due to CCP blockades.

Strong American allies such as Colombia and Chile embraced Chinese vaccines because of the region’s dismal response to combat COVID-19. Latin America is home to several of the countries that diplomatically recognize Taiwan and therefore do not have formal relations with Beijing.

El embajador de Taiwán, José Han, entrega a Paraguay una donación de 1,6 millones de mascarillas, 50 camas hospitalarias, 20.000 trajes de protección, 30.000 mascarillas N95 y 50 monitores multiparamétricos, entre otros materiales. (Efe)
Taiwanese Ambassador José Han delivers to Paraguay a donation of 1.6 million masks, 50 hospital beds, 20,000 protective suits, 30,000 N95 masks and 50 multiparametric monitors, among other materials. (EFE)

Paraguay is one of the 15 countries that recognize Taiwan. With 7 million inhabitants, it is not enough to contain the pandemic, even with Taiwan’s economic support and supplies.

Blinken spoke with President Mario Abdo Benitez and emphasized the important bond between Taiwan and Paraguay. However, Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Euclides Acevedo responded that the Latin American nation needs more solid support than words: “We ask these strategic allies for proof of their love, before holding hands, at least take us to the movies.”

163,000 doses have been received by the Latin American country, of which 23,000 thousand were donated by the United Arab Emirates and Chile. Such pressure leads the Paraguayan political elite to push for an agreement to break off relations with Taiwan in order to get the vaccines from China.

The CCP has directed all its soft power to secure diplomatic allies from Sinovac vaccines. Beijing is gaining ground in Latin America with the vaccine deal and the Belt and Road initiative.

Camilo Bello is a consultant focused on Asia Pacific studies and has experience in strategic management. He has studied law in Colombia and is currently pursuing studies in language and history at National Taiwan Normal University. He has collaborated with Students for Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan // Camilo es consultor enfocado en estudios de Asia Pacífico y experiencia en gestión estratégica. Cuenta con estudios en Derecho en Colombia y actualmente se encuentra realizando estudios en lenguaje e historia en National Taiwan Normal University. Colaborador de Estudiantes por la Libertad en Hong Kong y Taiwán

Leave a Reply