Myers: “The rationale for cutting ties with Taiwan is mostly based on the expected benefits of direct agricultural and other trade with China…”

Photo of Presidential Candidate Efrain Alegre with former President Fernando Lugo Fernando Lugo Méndez | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In a recent Newsweek article, Margaret Myers, director of the Inter-American Dialogue's Asia and Latin America Program, spoke with Tom O'Connor about the upcoming Paraguayan presidential election, its potential impact on Paraguay-Taiwan relations, and Taiwan's broader relations with the Latin America and Caribbean region.

Comments from Margaret Myers:

"The rationale for cutting ties with Taiwan is mostly based on the expected benefits of direct agricultural and other trade with China, since Paraguay's exports to China currently flow through neighboring countries."

"Paraguay also wants more direct investment from Taiwan, and is indeed demanding it at this point ... having noted that other non-Taiwan allies in Latin America are striking high-value deals with Taiwan."

"China has made major diplomatic advances in Latin America and the Caribbean, really since the election of Tsai Ing-Wen in Taiwan, whose Democratic Progressive Party has tended to uphold Taiwan's position as a de facto independent state (if not a de jure one)."

"China's efforts to convert Taiwan's allies have tended to surge when Taiwan is governed by the DPP ... China put direct pressure on Taiwan allies during the pandemic, for example, encouraging them to cut ties in exchange for vaccines."

"Of course, China's sales pitch also increasingly resonates with many governments and interest groups in the region, including agricultural producers in Paraguay, for instance ... Taiwan's Latin American and Caribbean allies often view China as a promising economic and even political ally."

"[T]he Latin American and Caribbean region has long been a diplomatic stronghold [for Taiwan] ... [A]ny attrition is hugely problematic for Taiwan and its efforts to maintain an international diplomatic presence."

"For China, Paraguay certainly factors as a supplier of much-needed soy and livestock, though less so than some of its neighbors ... Of course, establishing ties with Taiwan's only South American diplomatic ally is also of critical importance to China. Efforts are already underway there to forge ties with would-be political and business partners."



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