Editor’s note: As Taiwan pushes for increased diplomatic recognition on the global stage, and in particular with an aim at contributing to the World Health Organisation, this will be the first in a series of pieces by non-Taiwanese explaining just how they ‘see’ the country from their own nation’s perspective.
Taiwan, despite its limited diplomatic recognition on the global stage, maintains some relations with most countries on Earth.
While ties with states like the USA or the European Union are active and ‘booming’ with visible benefits for both sides, there are also alliances that are far more complicated, both in terms of history and growth.
One example of such a relationship could be seen as the alliance between Poland and Taiwan.
The establishment of bilateral affairs dates back to 1929, 11 years after Poland regained its independence on the back of over a century of occupation.
Even then, the relationship was weak due to lack of any correlation between the two countries.
This came to the fore when Poland had to face threats from its neighbours in the 1930s.
But, after World War II, there was a definite game-changer in Polish-Taiwanese ties.
One of the decisions taken at the Yalta Conference was to legitimize Poland’s government through democratic elections that subsequently took place in 1946 – 1947.
However, due to the creation of the communist bloc, Poland (later named Polish People’s Republic) became a USSR satellite state, which led to the breaking of ties with Taiwan in 1949.
As an authoritarian state in the Eastern Bloc, Poland had to support the communist camp’s decisions on the international stage, and this included unseating the Republic Of China from the United Nations in 1979.
The Fall Of The Soviet Union
Just ten years later though, after widespread revolution in Eastern Europe and the fall of Soviet Union, the first (partially) free elections were held in Poland, and the civic-economic transformation of the country led to increased international relations again.
In 2006, Poland supported Taiwan’s participation in the WHO as an observer.
Taiwan is today one of the biggest investors in Poland from Asia, in part as a result of the actions of the former Polish prime minister. Both countries have signed multiple economic, cultural, or legal treaties.
Large numbers of Taiwanese people now study in Poland.
And of course recently Taiwan donated 500,000 masks to help Poland in the battle against COIVD-19.
Yet the people of Poland are still largely ignorant about Taiwan, and have many misconceptions about this country.
The majority of citizens still remain in the pro-China camp.
In addition, the ruling party of Poland is trying Chinese methods to silence Polish people, slowly but surely.
While we can consider Polish-Taiwanese relations as growing, blooming even, these relations will not have any major impact on the international stage as long as Poland refuses to take more radical steps towards expanding the existing relationship, and its own status as a nation both internally and in terms of foreign affairs.
Yuan-ming Tsai (pen-name)