[OS] COSTA RICA/CHINA/TAIWAN – Costa Rica breaks relations with Taiwan

Released on 2013-02-13 00:00 GMT

Email-ID 337194
Date 2007-06-07 09:33:12
From os@stratfor.com
To analysts@stratfor.com

Eszter – they broke up after all. Arias announced, the Taiwanese FM
offered to resign.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – President Oscar Arias announced Wednesday that
Costa Rica has broken diplomatic ties with Taiwan and established
relations with China, delivering a blow to the Asian island’s fragile
international standing.

Arias said Costa Rica needed to strengthen ties with China to attract
foreign investment.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister James Huang quickly offered to resign to take
responsibility for Costa Rica’s switch, which left the Taiwan with
relations with just two dozen nations.

Since splitting amid civil war in 1949, Taiwan and China have fought to
win the diplomatic allegiance of countries around the world. China refuses
to have diplomatic ties with nations that recognize Taiwan, which Beijing
regards as a renegade province it plans to eventually unify with the

Central America in particular has been a bulwark of support for Taiwan,
and Taiwan had expressed fears that if Costa Rica were to shift its
recognition to Beijing, other nations such as Nicaragua and Panama could
soon follow suit.

“We are looking to strengthen the commercial ties and attract investment,”
Arias said. “China is the most successful emerging economy in the world
and soon it will be the second strongest economy in the world after the
United States.”

Arias said China is the Central American nation’s No. 1 trading partner,
buying more than $1 billion worth of Costa Rican exports last year.

China spends heavily to induce nations to change diplomatic allegiances,
offering investment, loans and other incentives.

“Taiwan has been very generous and I thank it for the solidarity and
co-operation it has shown for nearly 60 years, but I have taken this
decision thinking of all the Costa Ricans,” Arias said.

The change is just one more strike against Taiwan in its campaign for
international legitimacy. During the late 1960s, it had full relations
with 67 countries, including the United States. But the U.S. pulled it
embassy out of the Taiwanese capital a decade later and today just 24
states recognize Taiwan.

The United States, Japan, Great Britain and dozens of others maintain
quasi-official ties * part of a diplomatic sleight of hand to honor
Beijing’s condition that full diplomatic recognition be accorded to only
one of the rivals.

However, Beijing resents even those connections. Its main concern is the
United States, which remains Taiwan’s most important foreign link,
providing it weapons for its defense against a possible Chinese attack.

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian has said that Taiwan could enjoy formal
independence in his lifetime. This angered China, which has threatened to
attack the island if it formalizes its de facto independence.

At a press briefing shortly after Costa Rica’s announcement, Huang,
Taiwan’s foreign minister, offered to resign.

“I went to President Chen (Shui-bian) … and asked to resign to take
political responsibility,” Huang told reporters. He did not say if his
offer was accepted.

Huang said that he believed Costa Rica was an isolated case. But he
acknowledged he had ordered Taiwanese embassies in Latin America to guard
against possible Chinese inroads.

“I’ve asked our embassies to take extreme precautions against any further
pressure by the Chinese communists,” he said.

Taiwan has been concerned about a deterioration of its relations with
Costa Rica since May 14, when the Latin American country voted at an
international health conference against holding a discussion on proposed
Taiwanese membership in the World Health Organization.

On May 25, Huang met with officials from Costa Rica and four other Latin
American countries in Belize City in an effort to shore up Taiwan’s
diplomatic standing in the region.

Arias declined to comment on whether his decision could encourage other
Central American nations to transfer their allegiance from Taipei to

Analyst Andrew Yang of the Taipei-based Chinese Council of Advanced Policy
Studies said the Costa Rican action would probably create a chain reaction
among at least a number of Taiwan’s remaining seven Latin American allies.

“This will have a significant impact on other countries, a kind of domino
effect” he said. “Probably Nicaragua and Panama are next and then maybe

Salvadoran President Tony Saca said Wednesday that his nation was
interested in establishing relations with China but did not want to sever
ties with Taiwan.

“Taiwan is an independent country that has won its space and we will going
maintaining relations with Taiwan. If China accepts this we will open
relations with pleasure,” Saca said.


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