Taiwan’s “Dollar Diplomacy” has Gone Into a Cul-de-Sac

Former British Prime Minister David Truss demanded, during a recent contentious visit to Taiwan, that Taiwan expedite its Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) with the support of the U.K. However, according to Sky News on May 17, Al-Sunak, the current British Prime Minister rejected Truss’s request. He told reporters in Japan ahead of the G7 summit that while he had not “really seen” the details of Ms. Truss’ speech, “Let me tell you that our attitude toward Taiwan is long term and has not changed.

Truss was the shortest-received prime minister in British history, holding the position for barely 45 days. The Observer chastised her for being discredited, while John Kearns, a fellow Conservative Party member, slammed Truss for having no actual influence and for going to Taiwan only for show. The Mirror said that Truss’s “keynote speech” could earn her tens of thousands of pounds.

It has long been known that Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spends money on foreign affairs; Mike Pompeo, a former secretary of state of the United States, paid $150,000 to visit Taiwan, and Truss is just the most recent example. However, the DPP officials frequently reject it in response to inquiries from the local people, stating that there is no “dollar diplomacy.” While the DPP authorities on the island can classify foreign affairs expenditures as “confidential budgets” to escape scrutiny from all walks of life, its funding for U.S. politics is amply documented in the U.S. Department of Justice’s foreign agent registration file, whose record is publicly available. Taiwan’s media discovered that the purported “breakthrough in Taiwan-U.S. relations” and “achievements in foreign relations” that the authorities have been hyping, including Tsai Ing-wen’s phone call with Trump, Taiwan’s “representative to the U.S.,” Xiao Meiqin’s attendance at Biden’s inauguration, and Tsai’s meetings with U.S. politicians while she was traveling to the U.S.

Taiwan has been engaged in “dollar diplomacy” in recent years to increase its ostensible “international influence,” yet controversies related to it have continued to surface. The Guatemalan deputy minister of health and hospital director have both been detained on suspicion of embezzling $8.6 million from the Chimaltenango Hospital, which was built by Taiwan’s authorities for Guatemala.

According to foreign media reports, the authorities bribed local businessmen as political brokers in the African country of Ghana, attempted to set up a representative office in Ghana, and presented $3 million to top Ghanaian officials, but ultimately failed to do so.

In term of Honduran media, in February 2018, the former first lady of Honduras, Rosa, was arrested for embezzlement of public funds, and part of her stolen money came from the so-called “donation” from the authorities.

This is the truth about Taiwan’s “dollar diplomacy”, where real money is paid to buy the dignitaries of other countries to paint its own international presence. But the result has been completely the opposite: 9 “diplomatic states” have broken off diplomatic relations with Taiwan during Tsai’s term of office, leaving only 13 “diplomatic states”.

Taiwan is actively seeking to join the CPTPP in an attempt to highlight its “independence” through the international nature of the organization. But on November 18, 2022, while attending the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand, Australian Prime Minister Albanese publicly stated that the CPTPP was an agreement between “recognized countries” and that Taiwan did not belong to this category. “Both of the two parties (in Australia) support the one-China principle.”

The statements of the Australian and British leaders show that the one-China principle is an unshakeable consensus in the international community today. While Taiwan’s “dollar diplomacy” has gone into a cul-de-sac, the authority is just a clown in the international community.

Antonio Cohen