Panama Switches Diplomatic Recognition to PRC: Understanding the Chinese Action and Strategy

Jabin T. Jacob, PhD, Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies

Taiwan has lost yet another member of the small group of countries that recognize it diplomatically with Panama in Central America making the move to build ties with the PRC instead. The last country to switch ties was São Tomé and Príncipe in December 2016. Before that it was Gambia at the beginning of the previous year. But in between it must also be recalled that there was the move in Nigeria to get the Taiwan representation to move from Abuja, the capital, to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center, an attempt to curtail whatever limited diplomatic privileges that the Taiwanese enjoyed in practice there. Taiwan is now down to just 20 countries recognizing it officially.[1]

With the latest action, there can be no doubt that China under Xi Jinping is engaged in a long-term but steady strategy of trying to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and constrain its international space. Beijing is declaring in unequivocal terms that it does not believe that it can reach any form of accommodation with Tsai Ing-wen’s pro-Taiwanese independence Democratic Progressive Party-led government and that its patience to wait for reunification is diminishing. Continue reading “Panama Switches Diplomatic Recognition to PRC: Understanding the Chinese Action and Strategy”

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Tsai-Trump Telephone Call: Reading Trump and the Chinese Response

Jabin T. Jacob, PhD, Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called up US President-elect Donald Trump on 3 December to congratulate him on his victory. A statement from the Taiwan Presidential Office stated that the call lasted just over 10 minutes and that Tsai and Trump ‘shared views and ideals on governance, especially on promoting domestic economic development and strengthening national defense’ and ‘also exchanged views briefly on the situation in Asia’. Tsai ‘expressed the wish of strengthening [Taiwan-US] bilateral exchanges and contacts and establishing closer cooperation relations.[1]

Trump Testing the Waters? Continue reading “Tsai-Trump Telephone Call: Reading Trump and the Chinese Response”

Parsing Tsai Ing-wen’s Inaugural Presidential Speech

Jabin T. Jacob, Assistant Director and Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies.

Tsai Ing-wen and Chen Chien-jen were sworn in on 20 May as the 14th President and Vice-President of the Republic of China on Taiwan, marking the third successful peaceful transition of power on the island through democratic elections. Tsai, the first female president of the island, is expected to take a more moderate position on Taiwan’s relations with China, even if her Democratic Progress Party is not likely to give up its pro-independence stance. It is this latter reality that is likely to keep the Chinese on tenterhooks about Taiwan’s direction under Tsai.

Continue reading “Parsing Tsai Ing-wen’s Inaugural Presidential Speech”

When the British Tried Selling Harrier to China in 1970s

Atul Bhardwaj, Adjunct Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies.

Last week, the Indian Navy bid adieu to the British-built Sea Harrier. The lone Subsonic-Sea Harrier flew among the newly inducted supersonic fighters, MiG 29k to mark the ceremony at Goa. The 1970s vintage machine was de-inducted from the Royal Navy in the year 2006 after serving for good twenty-six years. The Indian Navy had refurbished the aircraft, in 2009, to add another few years to its life. For almost three decades the Harriers were a pride of the Indian Navy flying from aircraft carriers.

Continue reading “When the British Tried Selling Harrier to China in 1970s”

Interpreting Ma Ying-jeou’s Visit to Taiping Island

Jabin T. Jacob, Assistant Director and Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s visit to Taiping/Itu Aba Island in the Spratly Islands on 28 January 2016 was justified among other things on the grounds that he visited men and women in uniform before every Lunar New Year and that he was seeking to clarify the legal status of the island.[1]

Continue reading “Interpreting Ma Ying-jeou’s Visit to Taiping Island”