China outplays Taiwan
The USA’s ABC News reports how China has used the World Cup to score diplomatic points over rivals Taiwan. The Chinese involvement in building various stadia in the Caribbean has been well documented, but it appears the knock-on effect has been more wide reaching:
China gave Antigua a $55 million grant to build the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium. It gave $30 million to Jamaica for a new Trelawny stadium. St. Lucia has both a cricket and a football stadium courtesy of Beijing. The 70,000 people of Dominica have received the aid equivalent of $1,600 per person in the form of a cricket grounds, new drains for the capital and better roads.
The immediate reason for this largesse is Beijing's determination to diplomatically isolate Taiwan. Says Harry Sung of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, D.C.: "Their top priority is to isolate Taiwan. Most of the remaining countries that recognize Taiwan are located in the Caribbean and Latin America."
China's cricket diplomacy led to two West Indian countries, Grenada and Dominica, derecognizing Taiwan as an independent country. Of the remaining 24 countries that recognize Taiwan, four are in the Caribbean and two of these play cricket.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa