China has a habit of trying to bully small nations. Back in April
1997, it threatened Denmark and the Netherlands because these
nations supported introducing the annual resolution on human rights
in China in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
In August 1997 it was Panama and Sao Tome's turn to be bullied:
Panama came under fire because it invited Taiwan to a four-day
conference on the future of the Panama Canal in the beginning of
September 1997. Panamanian President Ernesto Perz Balladares invited
Taiwan president Lee Teng-hui to attend the inaugural ceremony of
the conference. President Lee's travel via Honolulu is leading to
awkward maneuvering by the United States (see "A Tale of two
President Balladares was unfazed by the Chinese threats, and said
that Panama wouldn't sacrifice its relations with Taiwan to please
China, even if China stopped using the waterway. He added: "They
can always go around Cape Horn."
As expected, the United Nations gave in to Chinese pressure and
decided not to send a delegation to the conference.
Sao Tome and Principe are being bullied by China because in May
1997, this island-chain off the coast of Africa established
relations with Taiwan. Beijing immediately expelled all five Sao
Tome and Principe students who were doing studies in Beijing, and
told the Sao Tome authorities to repay within 90 days the full $18
million in development grants which China had given the
island-nation since its 1975 independence from Portugal.
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