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August 20, 2017

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What would happen if Taiwan lost all of its diplomatic allies?

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- For a country that has constantly faced pressure from China in the international arena, Taiwan only has a handful of diplomatic allies who support the island nation's limited international space.

However, some academics and even senior Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members have been arguing that "diplomatic allies are useless" to Taiwan.

Instead of spending millions of diplomatic funds in retaining official recognition from these countries, most of them underdeveloped, they argued that losing diplomatic allies would be within a tolerable limit.

Some even argued that it would not be the end of the world for Taiwan if its diplomatic allies dropped to zero, as long as it had the support of world powers such as the U.S. and Japan.

Such rhetoric has apparently resurfaced recently after the country lost one of its remaining 20-plus allies last December when Sao Tome and Principe announced that they would sever ties with Taipei before switching recognition to Beijing a week later.

The tiny African island nation was the first country to sever ties with Taiwan after President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office last May, leaving Taiwan with just 21 allies.

Almost no one, however, felt regret for the loss of the 20-year-old ally.

Netizens applauded for the decision of the African country, saying that it meant that Taiwan no longer needed to spend money to maintain such a fake friendship.

Even DPP heavyweights, including Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), head of Foundation on Asia-Pacific Peace Studies, a private think tank that have served as an indirect channel of communication with China, the U.S. and Japan, echoed the view.

Hsu said that having small nations as diplomatic allies like Sao Tome was "not a good thing," as they imposed too much of a burden, adding that losing them "is not really important."

Former premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃) — who recently led a Taiwanese delegation to the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, also noted that the more allies break diplomatic relations with the "R.O.C.," the more the nation's budget is saved for "Taiwan."

Statehood in International Law

But is it true that R.O.C. Taiwan's status as a sovereign state would not be jeopardized at all once we lost all of our diplomatic allies? Would Taiwan gain more than lose if they really happened?

According to international law, the essential elements of statehood are: population, definite territory, a duly-established government and sovereignty.

Taiwan fits all these requirements even if it ultimately loses all of its remaining allies.

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