Costa Rica: Breaking Relations with Taiwan and Starting with China

On June 8, Costa Rican president Oscar Arias announced the diplomatic relations with Taiwan have been broken, and ties have been established with China. In leaving behind 60 years of diplomatic relations, this has created a great deal of critical comments, as well as of support. Legislators, blogs, press, etc. have all given their opinions.

What did Costa Rica gain in recognizing Taiwan? Some say money is the answer. During many years, Taiwan has maintained close ties with Latin American countries and gave gifts, beneficial loans, donations, etc. One cannot say that we or any of the other 24 countries were in that relationship for moral reasons. One can also not say that the country is ungrateful because that it was in the relationship for self-interest and not for conviction.

Some national blogs gave their opinions and the majority were against this decision, such as the blog La Suiza Centroamericana [ES]:

Y nos ha confirmado sin ambages que hemos entrado de manera decidida y definitiva en la era de la prostitución diplomática…Nuestra relación con Taiwán no estaba bien planteada porque se basaba en las dádivas y no en los principios fundamentales compartidos.

And it was confirmed, without talking in circles, that we entered in a decidedly and definitive fashion into the era of diplomatic prostitution…Our relationship with Taiwan was not well established because it was based on favors and not on shared fundamental principles.

One might ask whether Costa Rica's relationship with Taiwan was healthy or whether it was only for self-interest. Even though the countries share principles such as democracy, freedom of speech, whether that really mattered.

Juan Carlos Hidalgo [ES]

Considero totalmente imprudente y bastante perjudicial la decisión del gobierno de cortar relaciones diplomáticas…Costa Rica siempre ha ‘rajado’ de ser un país promotor de los derechos humanos y la libertad. ¿Cómo se justifica romper relaciones con una de las pocas democracias consolidadas del Este Asiático a cambio de un régimen represivo y violador de las libertades civiles más básicas como lo es China?

I consider the government's decision to cut diplomatic ties to be completely imprudent and very harmful…Costa Rica always has ‘gave an effort’ to be a country that promotes human rights and freedom. How is it justified to cut ties with one of the few consolidated democracies of East Asia in exchange of a repressive regimen and violator of the basic civil liberties, such as what happens in China?

There are other blogs that entirely support the decision, such as Fusil de Chispas [ES] writes:

El comercio y las puertas que se abren con la voraz economía China, se me hacen mucho más beneficiosas potencialmente, que el costo afectivo que parece tener el a otra cosa mariposa, en este momento específico

Commerce and doors are opened to the economic voracity of China, and I believe that this is potentially much more beneficial than the sentimental cost of the decision, ‘out with the old, and in with the new’

“A decision of this transcendence requires discreet diplomacy. We have been as transparent as the circumstances permits,” explained President Oscar Arias, when asked why the negotiations were secret. Now the country can be open to a market that contains 20% of the world's population (1.3 billion people), which is something immense and that may benefit the country.


  • Simon

    Wow. Apparently, some Costa Ricans did not approve President Arias’ decision. It would have been better if Costa Rica tried in public to recognize both countries and shame China for its inflexibility.

  • In this instance, I think Arias is making the wise decision. In my view Costa Rica is being courted by the great powers that be. Costa Rica and its people are better served because it is a fact that China is hugely influential and even the great super power of the world US of A has to recognize this. Arias may take heat for this but in the long run this move is more realistic.

  • I am a college student in China.I believe Taiwan is part of China,for the safe of China mainland.
    Now the world has no democracy really.Bush can do what he want to if he really want to do it,beacuse America is super powder.The order of the world is base on super powder.Now the influnce of China is stronger day by day.Taiwan will return to China sovereignty one day.

  • This seems to be a very complex question. One can’t say what would be the long term consequences of refusing to “change sides” in this moment, as far as one can’t be sure about the outcome of this “exchange of loyalties” — if there was any loyalty involved in the matter.

    But what i’ve found to be even more interesting here is the position defended by our fellow chinese commentator right above me. I am not sure if i agree or disagree with him about “Taiwan being part of China”. I am not informed enough about this matter to risk being too opinionated about it. But the curiousity that strikes me is “IF he saw things differently, IF he believed in the right of sovereignity of Taiwan, would he be punished by his ideas? Would he have permission to have them and, even more, express them?”. I believe that’s the question i have about his words. Could he say differently? I may be wrong, but i was taken to believe that there is not much freedom of speech and freedom of ideological variation in present day China.

    I would like to remark, anyway, that i am making this point in a very respectful, if curious, manner. It’s just a question that came to my mind.

  • mahathir_fan

    “Taiwan will return to China sovereignty one day.”

    What do you mean “will return”? Taiwan IS already part of China today, just a different government is ruling it, called the Republic of China.

  • mahathir_fan

    “Breaking Relations with Taiwan and Starting with China”

    I just want to let you know that your title is incorrect.

    It should read: Breaking relations with the Republic of China and Starting with People’s Republic of China.

    Taiwan is a province of the Republic of China. You cannot refer to Taiwan as though it is a country. Taiwan is the only province that is controlled by the Republic of China. However, the Republic of China also claims mainland China including Mongolia to be its rightful territory.

  • zhou

    when I first heard the news that CR broke ties with TW and established relationships with the mainland of China, I was like ..hmmm, sad for TW; good and just for the mainland of China. the flashback was about 35 years ago, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA , THE STAUNCHEST ALLY OF TW DESERTED TW AND JUMPED IN BED WITH RED CHINA!!!!

    are we too naive?– to talk about moral issues here? and as a matter of fact, should a nation or state’s leader have the word “moral” in any corner of his head, he is utterly incompetent and be fired right away , or the nation or state’s interests are in peril.

    in this case, of course the president of CR had one thing on mind” money”, and “money”, and “money”.
    how could you compared the mainland’s vast business opportunities with TW’s “donation” cash or whatever form, which has obviously been increasingly nominal, relatively speaking.

  • mahathir_fan, the name of the article is not incorrect, now CR has declared that no longer recognizes TW like independent republic, something that before if it did.

  • yourstruly

    Economically, Costa Rica probably benefits by switching allegiance from Taiwan to China. I’m not saying that I agree with the morality of the issue, but China doesn’t exactly have a right to say that Taiwan is part of itself either. Being a province of China implies a certain lack of fundamental human rights, and it’s not as if the Chinese government administration is especially good at taking care of its people anyway. Taiwan’s government isn’t really much better, either, but at least there’s a phantom of free will involved, and that should make some people happy at least. I mean, even as it is now, with Taiwan and China separate, they still trade like intimate bedpartners across the sea, so… the status quo seems good enough. China is just being greedy to want to acquire Taiwan.

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