Taiwan lost two more diplomatic allies, bringing down number of countries with formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan to eighteen. Dominican Republic (DR) 1 May formally established diplomatic relations with China; Taiwan expressed anger and announced “termination of relations” with DR, said China had offered $3.1bn investment and loan package as incentive to DR; China denied. Burkina Faso 24 May also announced it was ending official relations with Taiwan, and formally established diplomatic relations with China two days after. Responding at 24 May press conference, President Tsai said: “The series of outrageous manoeuvres from China intended to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty has crossed a bottom line for Taiwanese society”. Taiwan late month hosted President Moïse of Haiti, with which Taiwan still has diplomatic relations, and pledged $150mn in aid to develop Haiti’s infrastructure. China conducted series of military exercises aimed to deter Taiwan independence: 11 May conducted encirclement drills with H-6K strategic bombers and new Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets across Bashi Channel between Taiwan and northern islands of Philippines; Taiwan said it deployed F-16s to monitor manoeuvres. More Chinese bombers, J-11 fighters and KJ-200 early-warning aircraft flew over Miyako Strait separating Taiwan and Japan’s southernmost islands and conducted exercises in western Pacific in the same drills 11 May.
After drifting toward crisis for much of 2004, the outlook for stability across the Taiwan Strait has improved.
Each side’s most preferred solution for resolving the continuing Taiwan Strait issue – in the case of Taipei, widely recognised de jure independence; and in the case of Beijing, reunification of China on the same ‘one country, two systems’ basis as Hong Kong – are both non-starters.
Apparently irreconcilable positions on the ‘one China’ principle have emerged between China and Taiwan over the last decade, with Taiwan for some time now asserting not only that it is a separate political entity but an independent sovereign country.
China's underlying position on its cross-Strait relations, however strong its current commitment to peaceful diplomacy, is that Taiwan must make sustained, visible progress toward a peaceful settlement or risk a resort to armed hostilities.
In the last decade, Taiwan has moved slowly but surely away from its commitment to the idea of ‘one China’, the proposition, long agreed on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, that Taiwan and the mainland are parts of one country.