Why Taiwan and China are Battling over Tiny Island Countries

published on July 13, 2020

This video was made possible by curiosity stream when you sign up at curiosity stream comm slash went over you'll also get access to nebula the streaming video platform that Wendover is a part of there's a battle going on in the Pacific the People's Republic of

China and the Republic of China more commonly known as Taiwan have fought their territorial dispute for generations but now nearly each and every one of the tiny nations dotting the Pacific Ocean has emerged as a

Battlefield for this conflict the weapons of this war are not guns and bullets but rather concrete and banknotes this is a diplomatic mission aiming to shore up the support of some of the world's smallest

Countries there are 14 nations in question here Palau Papua New Guinea the Federated States of Micronesia the Solomon Islands Nauru Vanuatu the Marshall Islands Fiji Tuvalu Tonga Cerebus Samoa Nui

And the Cook Islands with the exception of Papua New Guinea each of these have populations below 1 million and each also tends to have fairly low GDP per capita generally between one and five thousand

Dollars this means that they're each granted fairly significant amounts of foreign aid in the previous decade Nui for example received 134 million dollars in aid or about 83,000 dollars for each member of its population region-wide

That average is only in the low thousands but the point is that the Pacific gets a lot of eight now most of this does not come from Taiwan or China Australia is by far the largest donor it is important for Australia to be in

These countries good graces for strategic reasons for example six percent of Australia's GDP is made up solely of exports that take one of these three maritime routes each of which passes by some of these Pacific

Countries these trade routes could be disrupted if there were instability in the pacific political stability also keeps foreign powers from attempting a power grab in any one of these nations and any such power grab would likely be

Too close for comfort for Australia so the primary aid motivation for Australia and its close allies like New Zealand and the US is stability that is not the primary motivation for China and Taiwan these

Two powers are openly engaging in what's known as checkbook diplomacy they're buying diplomatic partners through financial aid but why China is a massive nation of more than a billion people what benefit does it receive from having

Tiny nations like Samoa Tonga or Fiji on its side well they might gain some limited benefit but the main reason China works to build these diplomatic partnerships is so Taiwan cannot that's because to Taiwan even a tiny 11,000

Person nation like Tuvalu is hugely valuable as Tuvalu has something Taiwan doesn't Tuvalu is a member of the United Nations Taiwan is rarely recognized as an independent country in international settings this is despite the fact that

In almost every way it acts and operates as an independent country would there are plenty of countries like the US for example that have strong relations with Taiwan and treat it as if it were a country the US has a de facto embassy in

Taiwan recognises Taiwanese passports sales military supplies to Taiwan and has an enormous ly strong trade relationship with Taiwan yet it does not recognize Taiwan as a country that's because in international relations there

Is an implicit rule you either recognize the Republic of China or the People's Republic of China now given the choice between working with the world to his populist country or a moderately sized island of 24 million nearly every nation

Picks China even though Taiwan and the us are functionally allies while China in the US are frenemies at best it's just not worth while for the us to recognise Taiwan as a country this is the case for almost every country that

Is of course unless Taiwan makes it worthwhile across the Pacific Taiwan has been funding projects to keep small nations on its side in Palau they spent 13 million dollars to help

The country recover from typhoon Haiyan in Papua New Guinea they spent 45 million dollars to improve domestic agriculture in order to increase food security in the Solomon Islands they spent 25 million dollars to train

Local staff and conduct a survey of the islands local plant species in Nauru they spent $600,000 donating more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs to local households in the Marshall Islands they spent 1 million

Dollars building a seawall around Majuro atoll to protect it from rising sea levels in Fiji they spent $300,000 improving mental health service access around the country in Tuvalu they spent $200,000 repairing

And improving water storage equipment around the country after a cyclone in kiri Baz they spent 19 million dollars to repair and upgrade the country's main airport each of these projects in the hundreds more funded by Taiwan around

The Pacific improves its relations with these countries and therefore brings it more and more diplomatic clout Taiwan can't afford to buy the support of large nations but in some settings the size of the nation doesn't matter in the United

Nations General Assembly for example it's one country one vote it doesn't matter if it's Tuvalu or China when voting every member nation has the exact same power there are other systems in the UN where power is more balanced

Based on population but overall the world's smallest nations have a disproportionate amount of power more recognition even by the smallest countries strengthens Taiwan's case for a position in intergovernmental

Organizations like the UN that's why Taiwan targets small nations for support 5 million dollar spent on Tuvalu goes a lot further than 5 million dollar spent on Mexico for example but in the General Assembly

Tuvalu can help Taiwan just as much as Mexico can this diplomatic clout that Taiwan has amassed though gets in the way of China's ambition of eventually unifying the two it is for that reason that the People's Republic has gone on

The offensive China has been courting Taiwan's diplomatic partners in the Pacific with promises of larger aid packages the most recent two defectors were kiri boss and the Solomon Islands early in the

2010s China provided no foreign aid to either of these countries but then as soon as they each revoked their recognition of Taiwan promises of planes ferries medical supplies and more started pouring in from China in

Addition to these two countries Taiwan has lost diplomatic support from the Dominican Republic Burkina Faso El Salvador Panama and South oh man Principi in 2016 that leaves them with just 15 total diplomatic partners and

Only four in the Pacific region to maintain the limited support that it has Taiwan has had to get tactical China's style with aid is to build big flashy expensive infrastructure projects in Fiji they spent 50 million dollars

Building a paved road that halved the time it took for local farmers to get to markets but local engineers reportedly said that a far lower quality and cheaper Road could have achieved the same result in Vanuatu they spent eighty

Million dollars upgrading a port to allow for larger cruise ships to dock but in all of 2019 for example just five visited in Papua New Guinea they spent 1 million dollars building a malaria hospital in the capital of Port Moresby

Despite that being the region of the country with the least malaria and despite the capital having no road link to the region's with the worst malaria outbreaks each of these projects and more clearly have positive effects but

Undoubtedly they are not the most efficient uses of one or 50 or 80 million dollars in the mission of improving relations between China and the specific nations China does big flashy and sometimes ineffective aid

Taiwan does small personable and generally more effective aid that's why they have been able to maintain the relationships they have for so long despite a much lower budget china works to impress the government's taiwan works

To impress the people taiwan's average aid project size in the pacific is $500,000 China's is six million dollars taiwan does things like contribute sixteen hundred dollars for Palau baseball team to attend a

Tournament in Guam or spend two hundred thousand dollars buying a boat for an outer ad toll in the Marshall Islands or construct $300,000 of solar streetlights in not room the 80 million dollar port in Vanuatu might help people more than

The $1,600 for the baseball team in Palau but one can be sure that every member of that team and their families and friends heard about and remember how Taiwan helped them that's less likely with the large somewhat ineffective port

Taiwan knows that the choice of which side to support is a political issue in the pacific because there is that choice pretty much any politician in these countries will run their campaign with the Taiwan issue as part of their

Platform and so Taiwan is trying to gain the support of everyday people they want to win support from the ground up rather and from the top down this might create a better value for their money but at the end of the day China just has so

Much more money if China wants to win the political support of a small nation they can just spend and spend and spend at this point Taiwan's few tiny diplomatic partners are no longer a threat to China's goal of reunification

China will likely keep courting these nations not because they need to but because it'll further weaken Taiwan eventually though if there comes a day when the Taiwan issue is resolved either through reunification or recognized

Independence the Pacific Islands will be victims because when they're no longer useful the pawn is the first to be sacrificed if you want to learn more about one of the four Pacific island nations that are still on Taiwan side

The Marshall Islands you can watch the nebula exclusive documentary we filmed on location in the Marshall Islands you heard earlier that Taiwan funded a sea wall for the Capitol mash row but the final years of mash row

Explains why that was necessary and what it means for the nation it explains what life is like in a nation with a neck operation date the best way to get access to that is to sign up for curiosity streams nebula bundled you'll

Curiosity stream is of course home to thousands of documentaries that any went over viewer will enjoy and nebula is home to all of wind overs normal videos early and at free plus special exclusive projects like this documentary what's

More it's not only when over on there but half is interesting real engineering brain craft tears ooh real-life floor and more and more of your favorite educational creators so once again sign up for any subscription at true Aussie

Stream comm slash Wendover for as little as twenty dollars a year and get access to nebula for free

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