Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Nauru's severed ties with Taiwan means absolutely nothing

Do you think we should be worried? The Pacific island nation of Nauru has just caved to Chinese pressure and severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan. What if they come after Canada next?

Nauru, if you didn't know, is an invisible speck on a map of the world. Most people have probably never heard of it. It has a population of less than 11,000, making it the third smallest nation on earth, after Vatican City and Tuvalu (which you've also probably never heard of). It has an area of about 21 square kilometres (8 square miles), which is a bit less than the size of the city of Coburg, Ontario, also making it the third smallest in the world, after Vatican City and Monaco. Its closest neighbour that you might have heard of is Australia, about 4,000 km away. It is best known as a tax haven and money laundering centre, and as a controversial offshore immigration detention centre for Australia. It's kind of ikky and groaty.

So, it's extraordinary that its recent statement on Taiwan, the result of years of diplomatic and financial pressure from China, is being so widely reported. But it's no coincidence that its timing coincides with Taiwan's re-election of the anti-unification party of Lai Ching-te (an unprecedented third term for the anti-China Democratic Progressive Party). China has severely chastised those nations (including the USA and Canada) that had the audacity to congratulate the new Taiwanese President-Elect. It's clear that it will be upping its "diplomatic" (and possibly military) efforts to bring Taiwan back into the Chinese fold.

After Nauru's volte face, only ten nations now have full diplomatic relations with Taiwan (Belize, Eswatini, Guatemala, Haiti, Vatican City, Marshall Islands, Palau, Paraguay, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and Tuvalu), and 59 other nations have "unofficial relations". So, friends (that is, friends willing to cross China) are hard to come by for Taiwan.

The main thing to bear in mind here is that the little island nation has vaccillated over the years between recognition of Taiwan and kowtowing to the People's Republic, in order to gain financial support from one or the other, often in the form of undisguised cash transfers. This is just Nauru's latest gambit in its lucrative little United Nations game, and it is probably salivating over the thought of how much Taiwan might be willing to pay to gets its allegiance back. 

Don't think of this as some philosophical response by Nauru after deep thought and reflection. It's merely a financial transaction for a tiny nonentity that is willing to do or say anything for a few dollars.

No comments: