What you need to know
Taiwan's economic hold on its remaining diplomatic allies is tenuous at best.
With Burkina Faso now departed as a diplomatic ally, Taiwan is one step closer to becoming a pariah state. But those who cling on and recognize Taiwan as the One True China form a motley crew, and Taiwan in many ways dwarfs its 18 remaining official allies.
Taiwan's GDP at purchasing power parity is now almost exactly three times larger than its remaining diplomatic allies; all 18 together produced US$397 billion in 2017, compared to Taiwan's US$1.175 trillion, according to the CIA, which accidentally calls Taiwan a country on its website.
Taiwan's population of 23 million is now about half that of its allies' combined 57 million people. Guatemala is Taiwan's most populous ally, with about 15.4 million people.
Taiwan's economic hold over these countries is questionable. Of the 17 remaining countries and the Vatican, China is one of the top five exporters to 14 of them. Taiwan does not rank among the top five exporters to any of its allies.
Taiwan's impetus for maintaining these relationships is to secure a few proxy votes in the United Nations, but even that is not a done deal. In the latest kerfuffle over Taiwan's exclusion from the World Health Assembly in Geneva, only 10 of Taiwan's diplomatic allies voiced their support for Taiwan, as well as United States, Japan, Australia, Germany, Canada and New Zealand.
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Editor: David Green