Nowadays, international diplomatic relations are inevitably revolving around the relations between China and the United States. The deterioration of US-China relations has caused a lot of diplomatic waves. First of all, Trump started a targeted trade war with China, which also impacted other countries, later the trade war was coupled with the suppression of China's tech companies doing business in the U.S. and launching technology sanctions against China. Biden, after taking office, has intensified and pushed those measures onto the international stage, evolving into a game of supply chain blockade and cut-off. Especially in semiconductor chip technology and products area, a phenomenon of creating a bipolar world is looming. The United States has tempted to form an alliance to confront a self-reliance China. Biden wants to prove that the ideals and performance of the democratic system are better than the centralized (authoritarian) regime system in terms of universal values. Therefore, he strengthened his diplomacy against Russia and China by playing the cards of freedom, democracy, and human rights, for example, using Ukraine to pressure Russia, and Xinjiang and Taiwan to China. This article takes a fresh look at the development prospects of US-China relations based on several recent international events, in particular, the severance of diplomatic relations between Nicaragua and Taiwan and Nicaragua's resumption of diplomatic relations with China, all happening around the Demacracy Alliance Summit (December 9-10, 2021 EST). Whether it is a coincidence or not, these two events have far-reaching consequences. We shall discuss the significance of these two events from the perspective of a private independent think tank.
Interational diplomatic relations must be related to national interests. After World War II, China evolved into two parts separately governed by two competing governments. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) unified the mainland and established the People's Republic of China (PRC), while the Kuomintang (KMT) controlled Taiwan and continued the title, the Republic of China (ROC). In 1971, the United Nations recognized PRC as the legal representative of China replacing ROC in the UN. As a result, most countries in the world recognized PRC, and only a few countries maintained diplomatic relations with ROC. During Chiang Ching-kuo’s administration of Taiwan (1978-1988), Taiwan’s economy developed very well, hence it maintained a small number of diplomatic relations. Lee Teng-hui, who took over (1988-1996) and obtained a citizen-elected term (1996-2000), began “money diplomacy” to provide economic assistance to small countries. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) once accused the KMT of practicing money diplomacy, however, after it took power in 2000, it not only followed the example of money diplomacy but made it more corruptive, occurring at home and abroad. Most of the diplomatic relations obtained were small or island countries. Nicaragua, a not-so-small country in Central America, breaking diplomatic relations with PRC and established diplomatic relations with ROC in 1991, was a major international event at that time. In today's international situation, ROC's diplomatic disadvantage can maintain only diplomatic relations with 13 member countries in the United Nations, while PRC has 178 plus several non-member countries of the United Nations. Last week, Nicaragua broke diplomatic relations with ROC and resumed diplomatic relations with PRC certainly delivered a fatal blow to the DPP's dream of independence.
The United States has always maintained a vague stance on the Taiwan issue in order to seek its best interests. That is, it does not want to see cross-strait reunification, but it also does not allow Taiwan to seek independence in fear of giving mainland China a legitimate excuse to reunify by force. Playing the Taiwan card to contain the Chinese mainland has been the U.S. strategy, supporting Taiwan, in the early days, of resisting Communism and Russia et al and even counterattacking the mainland China if possible. Later, when the U.S. realized that it was impossible to counterattack the mainland, she began to play the card of free and democratic economy. However, China has risen in economy over the last few decades, and, successfully lifted 800 million citizens above poverty in the last five years. Even the U.S. is economically pressured by China as she became the world's second largest economy. In the recent decade, the U.S. launched a comprehensive counter-China strategy in trade, technology, finance, and military domains. However, under the challenge of the global epidemic, the U.S. felt overwhelmed and powerless. This is why the U.S. wants to engage in a broad alliance strategy. In addition to military alliances, such as QUAD+ (the U.S., India, Japan and Australia), AUKUS (the U.S., Britain and Australia), US-Japan, and U.S.-South Korea, the Biden administration has also launched a democratic alliance strategy by inviting 110 countries and regions to participate in a democracy summit, a video conference. Observing the controversial invitee list and meeting topics with no clear declaration, we see no justice done to democracy, nevermind forming solidarity, largely because it is ineffective to perform off stage/screen work in a virtual conference. During this summit, the defection of Nicaragua, a country in the backyard of the U.S. is a slap in the face of the US democracy summit. Although the Western media handled it in a low-key manner, the impact of this event is far-reaching. The future direction of Central and South American countries' diplomacy will inevitably become more independent from the control of the U.S.
Lithuania is a small country that appeases to the U.S. in playing the Taiwan card and wants to establish relations with Taiwan. This is also a matter of recent diplomacy that everyone is concerned about. China has reacted to limit trade with Lithuania. Both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport of Lithuania have submitted their resignations recently, which obviously has a negative impact on the current government’s behavior in embracing the U.S. China policy. In the recent news, Canada has raised tariffs on the U.S. and the United Kingdom has asked the U.S. to reduce tariffs on aluminum and steel. These are manifestations of dissatisfaction with the U.S.'s actions amid the raging epidemic damage and inflation threat. The resumption of diplomatic relations between Nicaragua and China is likely to have a domino effect. Will Taiwan be awaken? Money diplomacy is a channel of corruption in Taiwan. Although the result of money diplomacy is not good for Taiwan, the DPP may still use it. This can be seen from Tsai Ing-wen’s statement that Taiwan’s foreign minister is not obligated to resign over Nicaragua. The Tsai government clings to the thighs of the U.S. and wants to be a part of the US supply chain, but it is unpredictable whether there will be any crumbs for Taiwan. It seems that he U.S. can only write 'empty' checks, for example, a check for Ukraine to become a NATO member in ten years may not be cashed after all. The European Union and NATO countries, large and small, all have their own calculations. This is not the era when the U.S. can always have the final say. For Taiwan, the U.S. not even dare to write a check to defend the island; at most she can only pass some toothless bills in her Congress. At the U.S. Democracy Summit, Taiwan's speaker Tang Feng was blacked out by the U.S. State Department for her map-coloring trick (coloring Taiwan green and Mainland China red). Not only did it embarrass the U.S. and Taiwan itself, but it also sent a clear message that the U.S. does not wish and does not want to cross China's red line. The U.S. does not plan nor dare to engage any battle without sure win. The Democracy Summit cannot prove that the democratic system is a superior system with high efficiency and effectiveness. To raise democratic values, the summit members should unanimously reach an agreement and set a goal with explicit expectations, at least a meaningful unified declaration. But most of what everyone has seen so far are negative or lukewarm comments in the media. From the above discussion, it can be said that US-China relations have indeed reached the bottom, and there is only one way to go up for mutual benefits or facing mutual destruction.