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Only one winner in Chinese checkers

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


The Central American countries are playing Chinese Checkers and Beijing, not Taiwan, may own the board.

Vincent Siew, the Taiwanese vice-president, said recently in Panama that he sees no problem with Beijing’s growing economic ties with the region. Siew’s was a warm gesture, and he spoke of a “diplomatic truce” between the two Chinas. But Beijing has made clear that it is sure of final victory against what it regards as its rebel province.

So long as the mainland was immersed in dogmatic Marxism, Taiwan could be generous to the region’s governments, in order to propound the fiction that it was the “real China”.

But once the Beijing regime locked its Little Red Books in the cupboard, the game was radically changed. Now, mainland China is a primeval force of modern capitalism.

Costa Rica has been the only Central American government to break with Taiwan and establish diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Trade missions and representative offices, however, have made significant advances in the other five countries, including Honduras, which recently received $264 million from China’s Sinohydro, for the first stage of a $1.2 billion hydroelectric project.

The pace has suddenly quickened on China’s long march in Central America.