Taiwan will not consider retaking Malawi as a diplomatic ally, despite rumors of the African country’s discontent with Beijing, a senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday after local media reported that Lilongwe regretted abandoning Taiwan in December 2007.Yet, there was much criticism of Chen's foreign policy because he supposedly "lost" allies. Yet our "diplomatic truce" has gained us nothing from China -- no more international space, no great participation in international bodies, and no greater recognition from the world.
The officials, who asked not to be named, said that under the “diplomatic truce” with Beijing, Taipei would not take back a former ally because such a move could sabotage recent cross-strait rapprochement and rekindle the traditional hostility on the diplomatic front.
“If someone breaks up with you, but later wants to get back with you because he got dumped, would you take him back?” said the official, adding that if Taiwan were to take back Malawi, Beijing would not hesitate to lure more of Taipei’s remaining 23 allies.
Allies including Paraguay, Panama and Guatemala had been rumored to be on the verge of switching recognition prior to the cross-strait detente, but Beijing’s reluctance had undermined their desire, he said.
Taipei cut ties with Malawi after 42 years of friendship in December 2007 after it was confirmed that Lilongwe had forged ties with Beijing. The break-up, leaving Taiwan with 23 allies, was a shock to the ministry, which said it had not seen it coming.
Beijing reportedly offered a US$6 billion financial package among other economic incentives in exchange for recognition by Lilongwe.
The Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reported yesterday that Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika was unhappy with Beijing because of its broken promises, a mistake he feared would hurt his chances for re-election.
It should also be noted that if Ma were to take a shot at Malawi, China would start bleating about "tensions" and foreign observers would complain that Ma was "altering the status quo" and maybe even "provoking China." Ma's "diplomatic truce" thus also redefines a status quo in which Taiwan is completely passive, and in which every Chinese success does not affect the status quo, but any Taiwanese action away from China violates it.