Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 00:58 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 00:58 | SYDNEY

The tale of two coups


Fergus Hanson


21 July 2009 14:25

The coup in Honduras has put Taiwan in a bit of a tight spot. So far not a single country has recognised the new rulers of Honduras, but for Taiwan, Honduras is one of its handful of 23 remaining diplomatic allies.

The US, UN and the Organisation of America States are insisting that the former President is still the legitimate president of Honduras so which way does Taiwan fall?

It's a predicament not unlike the one China found itself in in Fiji following the coup there in 2006. 'Frank' Bainimarama lacks popular support and if past coups in Fiji are any indicator of likely future outcomes, Bainimarama's leadership is not a guaranteed long-term proposition.

Despite this, China has ploughed ahead with an ambitious engagement strategy with the interim regime that has included large volumes of pledged aid. That would appear to be a fairly risky strategy — even a miscalculation — by China to position itself in the longer term in Fiji.

Back in Honduras, while other states condemned the coup, Taiwan initially tried to keep a low profile. 

Taiwan remained silent for two days before the MOFA issued a vague press release that, somewhat at odds with the historical record, claimed that 'the Republic of China' had always upheld 'democracy and the rule of law' and declared that any behavior transgressing 'democracy and the rule of law should be condemned' without specifying Honduras.

Stronger wording followed from Taiwan, but that was followed by some back tracking with claims it was a 'domestic affair'. So far it's still an improvement on China's gung ho approach to the interim regime in Fiji, but it highlights the limits of the diplomatic truce between China and Taiwan. 

Photo by Flickr user Pan-African News Wire File Photos, used under a Creative Commons license.