Taiwan’s infamous ‘dollar diplomacy’ fails to buy friends or respect: experts

By Hu Yuwei and Huang Lanlan Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/18 19:53:40

A Chinese community in Los Angeles calls for reunification and protests Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen making a stopover in the US in August 2018. Photo: cnsphoto

The attempt of Taiwan authority to buy recognition from international community with masks amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, like its traditional means of pleasing its "allies" with huge amounts of money, has brought the island nothing but embarrassment. 

Taiwan's money diplomacy seems unable to stop its allies from leaving, as keeping so-called diplomatic relation with Taiwan did not conform to most countries' long-term strategy and interests, analysts said.

Tsai Ing-wen's authority claimed last month to donate 10 million face masks to some Western countries it regards as political "allies," despite its own mask shortage and well-maligned decision to halt mask exports to the Chinese mainland. 

But their pretended generosity, serving political interests of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has unsurprisingly got cold shoulders of many recipients, if we remembered how Paraguay, one of its "allies," reportedly grumbled the 100,000 masks Taiwan had donated were not enough. Paraguay eventually appealed to the Chinese mainland for help.

Ho Ching, wife of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, displayed an apparent lack of enthusiasm to Taiwan's belated mask donation on her social media, though the first lady later updated a "thank you" post under the pressure. 

Taiwan had issued a ban on the export of surgical face masks and consequently struck a deal for two surgical mask production lines Singapore set up in Taiwan. Taiwan's trick prompted many Singaporean netizens to comment across social media with "Erm, thanks, but no thanks."

Tsai's "mask diplomacy" in the pandemic is just a tool that local authority utilizes to satisfy its own vanity, seeking for a feeling as if it is "important and welcomed to international community," said Ni Yongjie, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies. 

"But in fact, the 'mask diplomacy' is just another self-deceiving attempt of DPP as the international society has seldom taken its voice seriously," Ni told the Global Times.

History has proved that the Taiwan authority's attempt of fawning over its "allies" and gaining respect through "donation diplomacy" is no more than wishful thinking. Seven countries have abandoned Taipei and turned to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing after DPP took office in 2016.

The Solomon Islands announced to break "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan in September 2019. 

Facing pressure of economic slowdown in recent years, Taiwan has been nonetheless spending as much as $322.63 million in aiding its then "allies" in the Pacific region from 2011 to 2017, according the Pacific Aid Map made by Australia-based Lowy Institute. 

Ironically, the paying out didn't work.

"The US has offered Taipei few actual helps but pies in the sky, and even that has coaxed Taipei to be self-satisfied and compliant," Ni said. 

"Money can buy Taiwan neither 'friendship' nor respect," Ni said.

Observers predicted that the number of Taiwan's "allies" will decrease to fewer than 10 within two or three years and will eventually drop to zero.


blog comments powered by Disqus