Cost of emerging from China's shadow

Map of Taiwan

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: Taiwan's had unsteady relations with China since separating from the mainland in 1949. Taiwan sees itself as independent; China says the island is a renegade territory. In 1987, the Taiwanese government began letting citizens visit relatives on the Chinese mainland, and since then, relations have become better. But both governments are still scouring the globe for allies. This morning, Taiwan's president has a large delegation in Honduras for the sixth "Taiwan-Central America Leaders Summit." From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Marketplace's Dan Grech reports.


Dan Grech: This isn't your run-of-the-mill summit. Think Christmas in August, with Taiwan as Santa Claus.

Taiwanese gifts this week include funding for an oil refinery in Guatemala, a hydroelectric plant in Honduras and emergency power in Nicaragua.

Larry Birns: We're talking about checkbook diplomacy.

Larry Birns is with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. He says Taiwan's willing to dole out millions to small, needy countries in exchange for the following promise.

Birns: We will recognize Taiwan. In return, we will be given a new road system, or a new warehouse system or a new port, a sort of economic goodie.

That's gotten Taiwan 24 diplomatic allies.

China, in contrast, has 170, including the United States. So when the Taiwanese president asked to stop in the U.S. to refuel on Tuesday, he was shuttled to Anchorage, Alaska and didn't get off his plane.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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