If a country (say Australia) were to officially recognise Taiwan, then it’d have to forgo officially recognising China, because of the One China Policy.

What intrinsic consequences would there be for such a lack of recognition? For example, would it affect the ability of Chinese citizens to visit Australia, or for consular assistance to be given to Australians in China, or for trade to be conducted under favorable trade agreements?

Also, does China have unofficial relationships with countries that don’t officially recognise China, akin to what Taiwan does with Australia?

I’m asking about intrinsic consequences, as opposed to speculating on how China may retaliate against Australia.

  • I’m case anyone’s wondering, the main reason I’m not worried about retaliation is that China is already retaliating against Australia. Dec 12, 2020 at 22:30
  • I guess you could research what happened with Nicaragua as it was a country that recognized China in 1985 but went back to Taiwan in 1990. But I don't know of a more recent change like that. I'm not sure one can make a lot of distinction between "intrinsic" and other consequences when it comes to China... as you probably know the trade sanctions that China put on Australia in the past year or so had both an official and a less official component.
    – Fizz
    Dec 13, 2020 at 1:24
  • I'm sure Australia can "officially recognize" whoever they want. The question is what China can do about it.
    – user253751
    Dec 16, 2020 at 18:37
  • It would likely be different for Australia. An important country like Australia (economically important due to large economy, culturally important as English speaking, geographically important due to large size) officially recognizing Taiwan would be much less easy for China to ignore than smaller less important countries recognizing Taiwan.
    – Readin
    Jan 31, 2021 at 2:48

1 Answer 1


I don't know much about the practicalities of unofficial diplomatic relations between China and countries that recognize Taiwan, but what I do know is that China has little trouble doing business with them, e.g.

China’s pragmatic attitude did not prevent the country from doing business with Panama even before formal diplomatic ties were established between the two countries. The same goes for China’s business relations with Guatemala and Honduras, two countries that are still close to Taiwan. Indeed, from 2006 to 2016 Chinese exports to Guatemala and Honduras increased by 300% and 750% respectively. [...] For example, China has become the second exporter of vehicles to Guatemala and Honduras with a market share of 11.75% and 14.75% respectively.

Trade also goes the other way, e.g. Guatemala exports to (mainland) China, mainly foodstuffs. (Not surprisingly they have trade a deficit with China.)

Guatemala and Honduras are among the countries that recognize Taiwan. Guatemala and Honduras don't recognize China. They don't have PRC embassies but ROC (Taiwan) ones. Taiwan for example has a Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US. I'd venture a guess that China has something like in (e.g.) Guatemala and Honduras, but I can't find any details... besides what they were called 10 years ago. FAO has this pretty dated document (2009) on alternative arrangements for countries with no diplomatic relations with China:

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As you can see, in some cases, the Chinese "trade development office" even accepts visa applications.

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