TAIPEI, Taiwan — To maintain diplomatic ties with Guatemala, Taiwan pays the country’s lobbyists in Washington. With its allies in the Pacific, Taiwan has promised to help preserve indigenous cultures. And to thank Lithuania, Taiwan’s newest unofficial ally, the government and local shoppers have embraced its imports, from lasers to bacon-flavored schnapps.
The fear of being swallowed by China — increasingly adamant in its authoritarian claims over the self-ruled democracy — focuses the diplomatic mind. Few places in the world can claim to be as scrappy with statecraft or as hungry for companionship as Taiwan today, and the effort goes beyond official channels. One digital diplomacy nonprofit has spread pro-Taiwan messages on social media worldwide through comics and product giveaways.