China-Taiwan Current Affairs - 2020

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China’s interests in the new country Bougainville

Recently, Bougainville, a chain of islands voted for a referendum of independence from Papua Guinea. The referendum saw 85% voter turnout choosing Papua Guinea as second option. The referendum was introduced because the peace agreement signed before 20 years ended. The agreement was signed to end nine year conflict or civil war that killed almost 10% of the country’s population. Employment and land acquisition in the island by copper mines (owned by Papua Guinea, Australia and other foreign countries) were the major reason behind the war.

Implications 

The independence of the country sends strong signals to other movements across the Pacific, especially New Caledonia (a French collectivity) that is preparing itself for the second referendum. The other important message that the independence sends is for the so-called traditional partners of the Pacific namely US, UK, Australia, France and Japan. The referendum has taken place during the period when the strategic anxiety among the traditional partners of the Pacific is at its peak.

China’s interests

The prevailing situation in the Pacific is advantageous to China. China seeks to influence an independent Bougainville. The political and economic presence of china in the country has increased already. China’s support to the island will increase its support among the Pacific islands against Taiwan. It is important to note that Taiwan recently lost two of its Pacific allies this year. Australia, UK and US believe that there are possibilities of China bringing Bougainville into its debt trap diplomacy. China is also interested in Bougainville for its rich fisheries, copper, gold and other resources. Building strong ties with the country will help China increase its presence in the Pacific.

Panama forges Diplomatic ties with China and breaks away with Taiwan

Panama has established formal diplomatic ties with China and broke all of its relationship with Taiwan in a move that is seen as a victory for China in its drive to isolate Taiwan from the rest of the world. China claims Taiwan as its own territory.

Panama’s Stand

Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela has announced that his country has upgraded its commercial ties with China and has established full diplomatic links with China. China is the second most important customer of the Panama Canal and the leading provider of merchandise to a free-commerce zone situated in the city of Colon in Panama.

In addition, Panama has stated that it is breaking off its formal relations with Taiwan. Panama has said that henceforth it recognizes ‘One China’ in the world and consider Taiwan to be an inalienable part of China’s territory. Hence, it has said that it will not maintain any more official relationship or official exchanges with Taiwan.

China has welcomed the decision taken by Panama. China in the recent years has been showering a lot of favours throughout Central America to woo them to break ties with Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Response

Taiwan has said that it will immediately cut ties and cease all bilateral cooperation projects with Panama. It has also said that it will recall all of its diplomatic staff and technical advisers out of Panama. Panama is one of Taiwan’s oldest friends. Panama was one of the largest economies to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Panama is one of Taiwan’s oldest friends. Panama was one of the largest economies to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Background

Taiwan now has just 20 formal diplomatic partners after Panama has switched its ties. Of them, 12 partners belong to Latin America and the Caribbean.

China and Taiwan are being ruled by separate governments since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. China’s constitution claims Taiwan to be a part of its own territory. While both the sides maintained an undeclared diplomatic truce in recent times, the relationship got deteriorated after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office last year.

At china’s insistence, Taiwan has been excluded from the United Nations and many other multinational bodies like the World Health Organization and other international gatherings.