Five of the 17 countries that have direct diplomatic ties with Taiwan are in Latin America: Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Paraguay and Nicaragua.

Source AFP/Twitter

Around the world, the 17 nations recognize Taiwan’s independence. But No country recognize Taiwan as an independent country.

Taiwan’s current foreign relations bind stems from a deal brokered in 2008. This “diplomatic truce” guarantees that neither China nor Taiwan will pursue formal diplomatic relations with a country that has already recognized one or the other. Beijing calls it the one-China policy, and it forces nations to choose between it and Taipei, with Beijing increasingly coming out the more appealing choice.

Taiwan has seen its diplomatic ties tumble like dominoes in Central America as Beijing wields its economic clout to push its “One China” principle that regards Taiwan as part of China and puts pressure on Taipei for unification.

In August 2018, El Salvador entered diplomatic relations with China and severed ties with Taiwan. According to Asia News, El Salvador demanded more than US$20 billion from Taiwan to maintain diplomatic ties.

In South America, Paraguay established diplomatic relations with Taiwan on July 8, 1957 and the only one in South America. Paraguay has had an embassy in Taipei since 1999, Taiwan has an Embassy in Asunción and a Consulate-General in Ciudad del Este.

In 2004, Paraguay attempted to negotiate a free trade agreement with Taiwan, but having to obtain approval from Paraguay’s MERCOSUR’s partners (none of which has diplomatic relations with Taiwan) made the process difficult.

Officials in Taipei are feeling a sense of crisis. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is under pressure to do something to maintain Taiwan’s presence in the international community.

The national flags of countries with diplomatic relations with Taiwan are on display at Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei. (Hideshi Nishimoto)

“The number of countries with which we can obtain diplomatic relations might be zero one day,” a commentary in Taiwanese media said.

Before leaving the United Nations in 1971, Taiwan had diplomatic relations with around 70 countries.