See More on Facebook

Analysis, Diplomacy

China’s increasing pressure puts Taiwan on the backfoot

Increased pressure from Beijing has countries and businesses slowly disassociating themselves from Taiwan.


Written by

Updated: August 21, 2018

In 1971, the United Nations recognized the communist government in Beijing as the ruling party of China. It is remarkable because, since 1949, the UN had chosen to recognize the exiled nationalist government in Taiwan as the de-facto ruler of all of China.

It is a slight that Beijing has not forgotten or forgiven and an issue that they have spent the last five decades rectifying. Beijing continues to assert that Taiwan is a renegade province of China and that any declaration of independence would be met with diplomatic force and potential military action.

The election of Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan, and her stance that Taiwan was already nominally independent, has irked Beijing.

Beijing has over the past three years exerted greater pressures on businesses and countries around the world to cool relations with the government in Taipei.

According to an editorial in the state-run China Daily:

Thanks to Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus, cross-Straits relations have deteriorated over the past two years. And due to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s consistently “pro-independence” stance and Tsai’s flexible approach to “de-Sinicization”, such as downgrading of Chinese history in textbooks of senior high school, the mainland has lost trust in the island’s leadership.

Another editorial in the same paper states:

The mainland stands firm in its cross-Straits policy to curb “Taiwan independence” moves, although it has issued 31 preferential policies for the benefit of Taiwan compatriots and to attract them to the mainland to seek better opportunities. Also, the supply of freshwater from Fujian to Kinmen island shows the mainland is only against the “pro-independence” moves of the Taiwan authorities, not Taiwan compatriots as a whole.

Economic Moves:

Earlier this year, China demanded that airlines no longer refer to Taiwan as a non-Chinese territory or face economic repercussions. With a billion strong customer base, the threats were not seen as empty. July 25 was set as a deadline and US airlines such as American Airlines, Delta and United were targeted. The US-based airlines eventually accommodated Beijing’s request joining the likes of Australia’s Qantas, Air Canada and Air India.

The airlines debacle was the latest in a series of moves by the government in Beijing to force business to acquiesce to its foreign policy objectives. The Marriot hotel group had to apologize to Beijing earlier this year when it referred to Taiwan and Tibet as separate entities – a move which saw Beijing ban Marriot websites from the country for a week.

Political Pressure

But if the economic pressure is significant, it pales in comparison to the diplomatic pressure that Beijing is placing on countries around the world to stop recognizing Taiwan.

In 2018 alone, the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan at Beijing’s insistence. As it stands, only a handful of countries in Central America, the Vatican and a few island nations in the Pacific recognize the Republic of China’s government in Taipei.

Many have acquiesced to Beijing’s demand with an eye to Chinese funds and expertise. China’s Belt and Road Initiative has promised massive infrastructure development in some of the world’s most in-need areas. Chinese capitals, Chinese goods and the promise of a Chinse consumer base seem to be enough for most countries to go along with Beijing’s foreign policy.

Taiwanese Response 

President Tsai has faced increasing pressure from within Taiwan to respond to Chinese aggression.  Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung said last month that the world’s attention must be drawn to China “ubiquitous suppression” of Taiwan, as evidenced by the revocation of his city’s rights to host a regional sports event.

“If we don’t speak up, our voices won’t be heard in the international community,” Lin said. “Even if the decision cannot be changed, we need to get more people to understand the truth.”

Lin made the appeal at an international press conference in Taipei after lodging a formal complaint earlier in the day with the East Asian Olympic Committee (EAOC) over its recent decision to cancel the East Asian Youth Games in Taichung.

In response to the voices within Taiwan, Tsai has embarked on a goodwill tour of the Central American countries that have stood by Taiwan. On Friday, Tsai thanked the government of Belize for “speaking for the rights of Taiwan as a member of the international community.”



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Diplomacy

Brexit deal refusal to have limited impact on Korean economy

Seoul vows to speed up efforts for Korea-Britain bilateral trade deal, bracing for post-Brexit era. The British parliament’s latest rejection of the government’s proposed Brexit deal is likely to have a limited impact on global financial markets as well as the South Korean economy, Seoul’s government said Wednesday. Vowing pre-emptive steps to counter a possible fallout, Korean authorities will work on preparations for a bilateral free trade deal with Britain, as the latter will no longer be subject to the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement upon Brexit. “The vote to reject the Brexit deal was seen to have a limited impact on global financial ma


By The Korea Herald
January 17, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Beijing rebukes French, German ambassadors

Beijing says award for Chinese lawyer is politically motivated. Beijing on Wednesday slammed the French and German ambassadors to China after they granted a human rights award to a detained Chinese lawyer, saying their wrongdoing gravely violated China’s internal affairs. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that China has lodged stern representations and expressed strong dissatisfaction, as well as firm opposition, to the ambassadors’ action. The relevant case is purely judicial, which has nothing to do with human rights, the ministry said. The wrongdoings of Germany and France gravely interfered with China’s internal affairs and judicial sovereignty, the ministry said. China urges the ambassadors of relevant countries to do more to develop bilateral relations and enhance political mutual trust, not the opposite, it added. The lawyer, Yu Wensheng, was detained


By China Daily
January 17, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Singapore-Malaysia relations still ‘good’, says Malaysian Foreign Minister

Ties between Malaysia and Singapore are still “good” despite ongoing air and maritime disputes between the two countries. “Our relations with Singapore remain good. There are some issues but we are talking to each other, and that is very important,” said Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah on Wednesday (Jan 16), “Most importantly, the discussions are going on. I am confident the discussions are moving in the right direction.” He said five senior government officials will meet with their Singaporean counterparts to discuss ongoing issues. Besides Mr Saifuddin, the others are Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and Foreign Ministry secretary-general Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob. Both Singapore and Malaysia are currently locked in two separate disputes – over 


By The Straits Times
January 17, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

China accuses Canada of double standard

Beijing slams Justin Trudeau’s criticism of drug smuggler’s death sentence. China on Tuesday expressed strong dissatisfaction at the Canadian prime minister’s criticism of a drug smuggler’s death sentence, urging the country to respect China’s judicial sovereignty and stop making irresponsible remarks. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing that drug crimes are recognized worldwide as serious crimes and are extremely harmful to the society. She said all countries severely crack down on the issue and so does China. Remarks made by a “relevant Canadian person” lack the spirit of rule by law, she said, urging the Canadian side to correct the mistakes and stop making irresponsible remarks. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian national convicted of smuggling over 222 kilograms of methamphetamines, was sentenced to death on Monday at


By China Daily
January 16, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

South Korean defense paper doesn’t label north an enemy

Ministry also says the north has specialized battalion for assassination of key figures. The Defense Ministry does not directly refer to North Korea as an enemy and takes a less hostile tone toward the communist state in its 23rd white paper published Tuesday. The ministry’s latest biennial white paper — the first to be published since the Moon Jae-in administration came to power in 2017 — addresses security threats, military policies and the regional security environment. Perhaps most notably, the Defense Ministry eliminated the phrase specifically describing North Korea as South Korea’s “enemy,” a move that appears to reflect


By The Korea Herald
January 16, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Rohingya issue will not be solved easily

Bangladeshi foreign minister says the road to a solution will be long and paved with difficulty. The much-talked-about Rohingya issue will not be solved easily, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said on Monday. “I have directed to conduct a study on the Rohingyas which will try to find out the impacts of Rohingyas on our country’s social, economic and security system,” said the minister while talking to the journalists at his office in Dhaka. Urging the international community to step forward for a logical solution to the crisis, he said, “The international community has also responsibilities to solve the crisis. If Rohingya crisis is continued, interest of everybody including India and China will be hampered.” India and Russia are much positive over the Rohingya issue right now, the minister informed. About the resistance from several countries including China over the issue, he s


By Daily Star
January 15, 2019