Based on my experience as a Taiwanese married to a Nicaraguan, the severance of diplomatic relations between Managua and Taipei reflects not so much China’s threat to Taiwan, but China’s threat to the world.
Since Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega returned to power at the end of 2006, he has managed to hold on to the presidency by amending the constitution to allow the president to be re-elected without restrictions. Blackouts would happen at polling stations during a presidential election, and when the light came back on, it would turn out that Ortega was re-elected — again and again.
He has been president for 15 years, and there might be 20 more to come.
The dictatorship of the ruling party has reached a point where the party flag and the national flag are placed together at the entrances of government offices.
Three years ago, Nicaraguans could not take it anymore, when failed pension reform policy became a flashpoint. In the face of mass protests, Ortega instituted a curfew, strictly controlled the media, imprisoned dissidents and even let the police shoot at protesters. Being virtually under martial law, and then hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicaragua is facing a serious brain drain — those who are capable have left for other countries.
The corruption and incompetence of Ortega has already dragged down the country’s politics and economy. Losing the support of the US has driven Nicaragua to seek help from China.
Taiwanese need not rush to blame themselves for the severance of ties. First, Nicaraguan politics have their own fundamental and structural problems — almost like Taiwan during the Martial Law era — and there would be no turnaround in the foreseeable future.
Second, Nicaragua switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing is actually an extension of a global tug-of-war between the US and China. The tension between the superpowers has become the main focus of world politics, in which Taiwan — which still uses the name Republic of China — is a litmus test for the international political environment.
Is this the miserable fate that Taiwanese should just accept and allow to happen over and over again? Facing all kinds of unreasonable demands from China, many countries just want to appease Beijing. Taiwanese know better than anyone that tolerating China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy would end up harming Taiwan and the international community.
For example, to avoid upsetting the Chinese Communist Party, countries have to ban news or discussions about concentration camps in Xinjiang, Tibetan independence, Taiwanese independence and COVID-19. What will be the next red line that cannot be crossed?
China made an example of Far Eastern Group’s Far East New Century and Asia Cement on Nov. 22. Who will be next?
Be aware that sitting around and doing nothing, or conforming to China’s wishes is awaiting doom.
In addition to making good use of Taiwan’s advantages in the semiconductor industry, the nation should strive to become a key influencer and key player in more fields. This is the real way out for Taiwan.
Remember that this is not the first time Nicaragua has turned toward China. In 2014, with the help of Chinese capital, Nicaragua claimed that it would build a canal to allow its freight volume to surpass that of the Panama Canal. With a claimed US$50 billion investment, only a 10km road was built, and the Chinese contractor ended up abandoning the project and fleeing, making this “project” an international scandal.
Katia Lin works for a non-governmental organization.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
Criticisms of corruption, a poorly managed bureaucracy and uninformed, unprincipled or unaccomplished policy in China are often met with harsh punishments. Many protesters in the “blank paper movement,” for example, have been disappeared by the authorities. Meanwhile, the WHO has asked China to provide data on its COVID-19 situation, with the Chinese government choosing to disseminate propaganda instead. The first amendment of the US Constitution, written in 1791, prohibits the US government from abridging the freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition, or religion. More than 200 years later, China, the world’s second-largest economy, still lacks the freedoms of speech and the press,
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the pride of the nation, has recently become a villain to residents of Tainan’s Annan District (安南). In 2017, TSMC announced plans to build the world’s first 3-nanometer fab in Anding District (安定). While the project was once welcomed by residents of Tainan, it has since become a source of controversy. The new fab requires a huge amount of electricity to operate. To meet TSMC’s surging electricity demand, plans are under way to construct a 1.2 gigawatt gas power station near a residential area in Annan District. More than 10,000 Annan residents have signed a petition
As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) constantly strives to rewrite the Taiwan narrative, it is important to regularly update and correct the stereotypes that the PRC tries to foist on Taiwan and the world. A primary stereotype is that Taiwan has always been a part of China and its corollary that Taiwan has been a part of China since time immemorial. Both are false. Taiwan has always been a part of the vast Austronesian empire, which stretched from Madagascar in the west to Easter Island in the east and from Taiwan in the north to New Zealand in the south. That
I first visited Taiwan in 1985, when I was deputed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to start a dialogue with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). I spent three days talking to officials, the end result being the signing of an agreement where the Republic of China (ROC) recognized the right to self-determination of Tibetans. According to official KMT records in Nanking, Tibet never paid taxes to the ROC government. In 1997, the Dalai Lama made his first ever visit to Taiwan on the invitation of then-president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). Lee took the bold step of opening Taiwan’s doors to