Taiwan and China have engaged for years in competition for diplomatic recognition, but the pendulum has long swung decisively in Beijing’s favor.
Nauru is the latest country to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan and recognize China. The small Pacific Islands nation announced the switch of allegiance on Monday.
Here are some facts about the diplomatic feud between Taiwan and China:
* Following the communist revolution in China in 1949, the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taiwan, insisting that it remained the sole legal representative of the Chinese people. Many non-communist countries continued to maintain ties with Taipei rather than Beijing.
* After the People’s Republic of China assumed the Chinese seat at the United Nations in 1971, more and more countries began severing official ties with Taiwan. The United States did so in 1979, but today remains Taiwan’s most important international backer and a major arms supplier to Taipei.
* After Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016, and Taiwan-China ties soured, the diplomatic shift to China accelerated.
* Taiwan’s government says that the Republic of China, which remains the island’s official name, is a sovereign country with the right to state-to-state ties and Beijing has no right to speak for it.
* China says Taiwan is merely one of its provinces and only Beijing can represent the island on the world stage.
* Nauru announced the news that it was severing ties with Taiwan just two days after Taiwanese elected Lai Ching-te president. China considers him a dangerous separatist.
* Taiwan and China have for years traded accusations about using “dollar diplomacy”, dangling generous monetary packages in exchange for recognition, though Taiwan’s government says it will no longer do so and that its aid is more appropriate than the flashy infrastructure projects Beijing often proffers.
* Taiwan says it values its allies as they often speak in support of Taiwan at the United Nations and other global bodies Taipei is locked out of due to Chinese pressure.
* Taiwan’s Latin America and Caribbean allies are extra important as they give Taiwanese presidents an excuse to “transit” the United States while on state visits, where important meetings with US officials take place.
* The United States has been concerned about countries leaving Taiwan for China, given it is viewed in Washington as Beijing expanding its influence in what is traditionally the US backyards of Latin America and the Pacific.
* Taiwan, which has long since thrown off its Cold War authoritarian mantle and become a thriving democracy, has been heartened by growing unofficial support from US allies like Japan, Britain, France and the Czech Republic, which has helped soften the blow of losing so many of its former allies.
* Some countries have swapped between Taiwan and China more than once, including Liberia and the Central African Republic. The last country to switch back to Taiwan was Saint Lucia in 2007, bucking the trend.
* The countries which still maintain ties with Taiwan are: Belize, Guatemala, Paraguay, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, Eswatini and the Vatican City.