After Honduras cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan last week, China has established diplomatic relations with the Central American nation. President Xi Jinping has welcomed a series of foreign dignitaries to Beijing after Taiwan lost its democratic Central American allies, as part of an on-going campaign to isolate the island politically. Honduras’ break from Taiwan, which had been expected for some time, marked the second such move by a country in a month, following the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in late 2019. Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Wu, criticised Honduras for seeking “billions of dollars in huge economic assistance” before breaking away from Taipei. This is part of Beijing’s continued efforts to pressure Taipei into accepting a “one China” agreement that would force the island to abandon its claims of independence. The US government is concerned about Beijing’s increased efforts to oust Taiwan from the global stage, as it expands its political influence in its backyard, and its ongoing attempts to weaken Hong Kong’s autonomy from China.
What is now officially known as the “One China Policy” has been a cornerstone of US-China relations since President Jimmy Carter recognised the People’s Republic of China over Taiwan in 1979. Since then, Taiwan has only been allowed to foster formal relationships with a handful of nations around the world, although despite this it has managed to carve out a successful democracy in a region where many governments have struggled to promote human rights.
China’s campaign to isolate Taiwan is a long-term policy aimed at making the island an offer that it can’t refuse, whereby it accepts reunification with China, or else face a significant diplomatic and economic isolation on the world stage. China is pushing an “anti-secession law” that has been in force since 2005, which formalises the use of war to prevent Taiwan from declaring independence, even if the legal framework that it draws upon is itself shrouded in ambiguity. Not only does this jeopardise regional stability, it tries to ignore the will of Taiwanese citizens, whose population overwhelmingly leans towards political independence.
During her visit to the US this week, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen will be hoping to build a deeper relationship with US politicians on both sides of the aisle. The US State Department has stated that it will “continue to deepen and expand our engagement with Taiwan.” The UK should also be vocal in its support of Taiwan’s independence and call out the dangerous, expansionist policies of the Chinese Communist Party.