BELIZE CITY, Wed. Mar. 13, 2019– Over the years, there have been many occasions on which Belize has received assistance from Taiwan. In many instances, that assistance came in the form of donations, which were given in a variety of ways. Some donations were financial in nature, and were either monetary gifts which did not require repayment, or loans that were granted on lenient terms.
Other donations were merchandise or commodities, such as their donation of 10,000 bags of rice last year. Now, Taiwan needs its allies, including Belize, to support its democracy, which is being threatened by mainland China.
The Republic of China on Taiwan, which is the island’s full name, split from mainland China in 1949 after about 3 years of civil war between the Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, and the Communists, led by Mao-Tse-tung. The Nationalists ended up fleeing to Taiwan and set up government there, severing the island from Communist-ruled mainland China.
On January 2 of this year, 2019, President of China, Xi Jinping gave a speech for the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan.” In this speech, he called for the reunification of Taiwan to China on a “one country, two systems” basis.
Since Taiwan is self-governed, it does not, and never has, considered itself a part of mainland China. In response to President Xi’s comment, Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, said that Taiwan will never accept reunification with China and will never give up its democracy.
President Xi has warned Taiwan that it has not ruled out the use of military force to reclaim Taiwan. Since Taiwan’s President Tsai, of the Democratic Progressive Party, won the presidential elections in 2016, China has pressured the World Health Organization (WHO) against allowing Taiwan to participate in the World Health Assembly (WHA), where for the past 8 meetings Taiwan has attended as an observer under the name “Chinese Taipei”.
Presumably due to Taiwan’s democracy and pro-independence attitude, Beijing has blocked mainland tourists from visiting the island, and has also prevented Taiwan from participating in international fora.
WHO spokesperson, Christian Lindemeier, blamed Taiwan’s exclusion on poor cross-strait relations. This however violates WHO’s, Principle of “health for all.”
Due to this, Taiwan was unable to donate US$1 million to WHO in order to assist the efforts in fighting ebola in Africa as Taiwan had intended. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) had thus decided to suspend the donation.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs WHO’s Secretariat was unable to formulate a mutually acceptable and dignified arrangement for Taiwan’s government to make the donation, even after seven months of consultations.
China has not stopped there, however. On January 17, Taiwan’s MOFA condemned China for pressuring 66 multinational companies to change their designation for Taiwan to “Taiwan, China.” Taiwan’s MOFA urged these companies to reject China’s demands. The companies included Apple, Nike, Amazon, and Siemens.
This follows another move by China in early 2018 to coerce airlines as well to refer to Taiwan as “Taiwan, China.”
In a recent interview with CNN in late February, President Tsai warned that Taiwan is not the only country that should be worried about China, but also those countries in the region and beyond. According to President Tsai, “We are facing a China that is growing stronger and stronger. In fact, it seeks to become a world hegemony.”
“Our greatest challenge is whether we can continue to maintain our independent existence and security, our prosperity from economic development, and our democracy,” the president continued. “China’s ambitions and intentions do not just involve Taiwan. It seeks opportunities to control or influence all countries in the region, and even beyond… It is a problem that all of us must face together,” said President Tsai.
China has also been increasing its military drills around Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait. President Tsai also said that China has increased its military preparedness and capability rapidly over the past few decades, and that Taiwan is aware that it needs to do the same with its own defense capabilities.
The president mentioned that they have hope that if they are ever faced with a military threat from China, that their