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Taiwan’s List of Allies Against China Keeps Getting Shorter

China has been so busy paying off Taiwan’s few diplomatic allies to switch allegiances to China that people in Taiwan are starting to bet on which country is next to go. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and says that nation has no right to set up relations with foreign countries.

The latest casualty in the China-Taiwan diplomatic game is Panama, which announced on June 12 that, after several decades of relations with Taiwan, it would break that relationship to sign with China instead.

“Panama’s move is a heavy body blow for Taiwan,” said Sean King, Senior Vice President of Park Strategies. “An obviously major shipping nation that uses the U.S. dollar, Panama has long been one of Taipei’s highest-profile diplomatic allies.” (The only higher profile one is the Vatican.)

Which countries are going to switch allegiances next? The bets are on these three:

Nicaragua. Although Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega gave Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen a warm welcome in January, Nicaragua has a history of breaking off diplomatic relations, having done so in 1985. There is also a question of Chinese control over the Interoceanic Canal, since Nicaragua gave responsibility for that canal to a Chinese businessman.

Paraguay. Paraguay established ties with Taiwan in 1957 and has never broken those ties. Taiwan has also offered a great deal of aid to Paraguay. However, changes in that nation’s leadership and the fact that Taiwan is no longer involved in “checkbook diplomacy” could make China’s invitations more enticing.

St. Lucia. This country was once an ally of China but signed on with Taiwan in 2007. However St. Lucia’s historic willingness to switch sides, plus the expiration of a 2012 truce between China and Taiwan, would make the island nation an easy target for China’s overtures.

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