Taiwan Needs a New Approach in Latin America

Taiwan Needs a New Approach in Latin America
Taiwanese Vice President Lai Ching-te meets with Honduran President Xiomara Castro in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Jan. 27, 2022 (Taiwan Presidential Office photo via AP).

Taiwan is fighting a losing diplomatic battle in Latin America. Last week, Honduran President Xiomara Castro announced that her government will sever its diplomatic relations with Taiwan and instead recognize the People’s Republic of China. In doing so, Honduras became the fifth Central American country to switch allegiances from Taipei to Beijing in recent years, following Nicaragua in 2021, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic in 2018 and Panama in 2017. 

Taiwan can choose to continue playing this recognition game, watching countries get picked off one by one due to Beijing’s checkbook diplomacy, with its larger economy simply overpowering what Taipei can offer. Or it can work with its allies to find a new way to relate to the world.

With the loss of Honduras, of the 13 countries that still recognize Taiwan, seven are in the Western Hemisphere: Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Saint Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. That number could drop further this year depending on the outcomes of elections in Paraguay and Guatemala. No country is expected to flip from Beijing to Taipei anytime soon.

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