Nauru has severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and switched its recognition to China, delivering a major blow to Taiwan’s international standing.
Nauru Cuts Formal Ties after Taiwan’s Election
The move comes just days after Taiwan elected a new president, Tsai Ing-wen, who has taken a firm stance supporting Taiwan’s sovereignty. According to reports, Nauru’s president Lionel Aingimea signed a communique on January 15th establishing formal ties with China.
This represents a setback for Taiwan, which now only has 13 small nation allies left globally after losing Nicaragua in 2021. Nauru, an island country in the Pacific, had been one of Taiwan’s staunchest supporters for decades. But China’s growing influence in the region led Nauru to reassess.
“The government of Nauru has decided today to terminate the country’s diplomatic ties with Taiwan and forge formal intergovernmental relations with the People’s Republic of China,” Nauru said in a statement.
Taiwan Accuses China of Coercion
In response, Taiwan accused China of using “dollar diplomacy” and “coercion” to entice Nauru and suppress Taiwan’s global participation.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed “indignation and regret” at Nauru’s decision. They state that China manipulated Nauru with promises of “huge financial assistance” and aid.
“China’s government has continued to suppress Taiwan’s international space using money and coercion like this,” stated Taiwan Premier Chen Chien-jen according to reports.
China’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the recognition by Nauru, stating: “We highly commend the Pacific island nation for this wise choice.”
What Led to Nauru’s Shift Towards China
Nauru is the world’s smallest republic and its economy relies heavily on international aid. This made it vulnerable to shifting allegiances.
|Key Facts on Nauru
|8.1 square miles
|Phosphate depletion has left it poor
China has been expanding its reach into the South Pacific with promises of aid and support for infrastructure projects.
In Tonga and Micronesia, China has helped build ports, airports, roads and stadiums. This boosted their economies but also tilted them towards China’s influence according to analysts.
As a result, 8 out of 14 of Taiwan’s remaining allies are small South Pacific islands. Taiwan now faces an uphill battle holding onto diplomatic ties in the strategic region.
What Comes Next
Increased Tensions: Losing allies like Nauru will put more pressure on Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen to stand firm on sovereignty issues, despite threats from China. This could raise cross-strait tensions with China according to experts.
Further Flip-Flopping: Small Pacific island nations like Nauru, which rely heavily on foreign aid, may continue shifting diplomatic ties based on short-term financial incentives from China or Taiwan. There is a pattern of Pacific states flip-flopping recognition over past decades.
Ongoing Aid Battle: Nauru’s change of heart will intensify the “dollar diplomacy” standoff between China and Taiwan in their efforts to peel away each other’s allies. Both sides use promises of aid and support to boost diplomatic ties around the globe. This has been dubbed “checkbook diplomacy” according to the LA Times.
The severing of ties with Nauru deals a symbolic and strategic blow to Taiwan by shrinking its potential partners on the world stage. It also shows the pressure Taiwan faces holding onto allies with China determined to isolate the island democracy globally. This event will reshape diplomatic dynamics in the Pacific region and beyond.
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