Taiwan is an island off the coast of China. It is a prosperous and democratic country. Most of the world’s semiconductor computer chips come from there. But there is a problem. The much bigger neighbor says that he belongs to them. Taiwan’s “reunification” with China has been a Chinese goal for decades.
China is in the United Nations and Taiwan is not. China has kept Taiwan away from other world agencies, such as the World Health Organization.
Xi Ping is the president of China. His intentions to bring Taiwan to China were made clear at a recent party conference. How can Taiwan’s much smaller job remain independent? The answer is simple: make friends.
Some call it the “charm offensive.” Formal diplomatic relations with other nations are declining and trade relations are increasing. America is helping. Countries like Japan and Australia see friendship with Taiwan as reinforcing the country’s place in the world order.
Taiwan is working to make friends.
Lithuania is an example. In an exhibition center, a government-sponsored trade group has set up a showroom for Lithuanian products.
About a year ago, Lithuania rejected a popular Chinese cell phone with a censorship record of 449 terms banned by the Chinese government. Beijing made it difficult for many Lithuanian companies to sell their products in China. Taiwan entered. He announced that he was creating a $200 million fund to invest in Lithuania. It added a billion-dollar program to finance joint projects, including semiconductors.
The government and people of Taiwan demonstrated around Lithuania. The stores have been sold out of Lithuanian products. Some Lithuanians in Taiwan report that taxi drivers refused to let them pay.
It’s the little things that count. The ambassador of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said that when she arrived in Taiwan in 2019, the foreign minister met her at the airport to accept her credentials — at 5 a.m.
“We have a friendship,” he said. “Diplomatic allies tend to talk about interests, but Taiwan has been with us since 1981.”
A nonprofit organization that helps Taiwan said Taiwanese are eager to build international friendships. To do that, a team produces social media content for countries where Taiwan is active. It is also training hundreds of volunteers in social media messaging and will help keep Taiwan top of mind.
Taiwan’s position in the world is better. Diplomacy and more informal approaches work.
China has more money to offer. Taiwan must find other ways to build loyalty.
“We have to be more creative and, like, more adorable; we are trying to make friends, to make more friends,” said one observer.
Source: The New York Times October 20, 2022