What Do Burkina Faso and eSwatini Tell Us About Taiwanese Diplomacy?

Taiwan lost one sub-Saharan African ally in 2018, but it’s gripping tightly onto another.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/04/26
By: Megan Conville

Credit: Taiwan Presidential Office

The continual diplomatic isolation of Taiwan has seen the island reduced to one Sub-Saharan African ally: eSwatini, formally known as Swaziland. The most recent loss of an ally came with a shift from Burkina Faso on the state’s diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. Burkina Faso turned down economic inducements from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as recently as January of 2017 but, ultimately, moved to become an ally of the PRC in May 2018. A comparison of the potential sources of Burkina Faso’s negative relationship and eSwatini’s positive relationship with Taiwan can lend insight into the future success or failure of Taiwan’s diplomatic relations.

This article questions the role of evaluating what contributes to a small state extending official diplomatic relations. It is undeniable that diplomatic recognition can assist with a state’s role in social and economic interaction on a global scale. Taiwan has a unique diplomatic standing, as it has been party to yo-yo diplomacy for over fifty years – states will officially recognize and de-recognize Taiwan, and even sometimes re-recognize it. Taiwan then has an additional unique quality to its diplomatic recognition, as a shift in official diplomatic relations often correlates to a state choosing to recognize the PRC in an official capacity.

The question stands: What factors contribute to official diplomatic recognition? The argument that choosing to recognize the PRC or Taiwan due to similar political and ideological structures appears to be largely outdated since the Cold War ended. Though politics plays a marginal role, the overarching contributor to diplomatic recognition seems to be based on economics. This conclusion offers itself to the current framework in which to analyze the relationship between economic assistance and diplomatic recognition.    [FULL  STORY]

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