The Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) on Monday voted to expel Taiwan after more than two decades as a permanent observer and replace it with China, whose growing economic influence in Latin America has increasingly marginalized Taipei.
The six-nation parliament, comprising Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic, met on Monday in Managua, where local lawmakers proposed to replace Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan with the Chinese National People’s Congress as an observer.
Prior to the vote, US lawmakers have voiced concerns over the proposal, initiated by Nicaragua, to eject Taiwan as a permanent observer and invite China.
US Senator Jim Risch, ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and US Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, on Friday last week issued a joint statement urging members of PARLACEN “to consider the negative impact” in the region if China was included in the parliament.
Nicaragua in 2021 broke its longstanding diplomatic ties with Taiwan and switched allegiance to Beijing. In April last year, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the deputy speaker of PARLACEN, used his power to issue a statement that PARLACEN recognizes the “existence of one China,” triggering a backlash and public protests from pro-Taiwan representatives in the parliament, resulting in meetings being suspended for a full month. Nicaraguan representatives followed up in June this year with a proposal to revoke Taiwan’s observer status and replace it with China.
Global politics is a brutal game characterized by political struggle and rivalry based on two principles: one, there are no permanent friends or perpetual enemies, only permanent national interests. Two, those that hold the most bargaining chips call the shots.
Taiwan does not have the luxury to complain about Nicaragua’s ingratitude or wallow in self-pity. Instead, it must take proactive action to communicate and coordinate with the US’ House of Representatives and Senate. Only by building on mutual respect and collaborating with like-minded friends can Taiwan and the US plan the next step forward.
Hu Wen-chi is a former vice chairman of the KMT’s Culture and Communications Committee.
Translated by Rita Wang
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