Taiwan's Diplomatic Isolation Deepens as El Salvador Defects to Beijing

Senator Marco Rubio

Taiwan now has formal relations with only 17 countries worldwide, many of them small, less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific, including Belize and Nauru.

"El Salvador has made the choice to commit itself to one China with no pre-conditions, thus standing with most countries in the world", Wang said in comments that seemed meant to pre-empt Taiwanese accusations that China had bought the small Latin American nation's loyalty.

Since then, Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Sao Tome and Principe have all switched their recognition to Beijing.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters earlier that Taipei was not willing to engage in "money competition" with its giant neighbor.

Wu said that El Salvador had repeatedly sought large amounts of funding from Taiwan for a port project that a Taiwanese team of engineers dispatched by the government thought wasn't economically feasible.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi praised El Salvador's decision to "recognise there is one China in the world".

In Beijing, Castaneda said it was a strategic decision his government made to "create conditions to change the historical standing of our country and to really elevate the livelihood of our people".

Wu said El Salvador's ruling party was also expecting Taiwan to provide funds to help it win in elections, but Taiwan refused.

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The president of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, said in an address on national television Monday night: "I announce that my government has taken the decision to break diplomatic relations maintained until today between the Republic of El Salvador and Taiwan, and establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China".

China, which believes Tsai wants to push for Taiwan's formal independence, has already complained to Washington about her United States stopovers on the arrival and departure legs of her trip to Paraguay and Belize in the past two weekends.

El Salvador's move leaves Taiwan with a dwindling number of allies around the world as a growing number switch recognition to China, which sees the self-ruling democratic island as a renegade part of its territory.

In a sign of the geo-political tensions, Taiwan bakery chain 85C with numerous branches in China disappeared from major Chinese food apps amid calls for a boycott after Tsai stopped by for a coffee at one of its stores in Los Angeles. Economic support and other aid are often used as bargaining chips for diplomatic recognition.

The latest diplomatic switch leaves Taiwan further isolated on the global stage as Beijing continues to put pressure on the self-governed island that operates under its own government, currency, and military.

The news came just after Tsai, who is trying to raise Taiwan's worldwide profile, wrapped up a Latin American tour which included stops in the United States, which drew criticism from China.

The impasse has accelerated Beijing's efforts to tempt Taiwan's remaining diplomatic partners to normalize relations, and resulted in debate within Taiwan about the direction of its foreign policy, and whether its remaining allies can be relied upon given the likelihood that China will continue to offer outsized economic incentives. Pressure would only make us more determined and united.

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