By Associated Press, The Associated Press on January 23, 2024.
BEIJING (AP) – China’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Beijing has formally restored diplomatic relations with Nauru after the tiny Pacific island nation cut its ties with Taiwan earlier this month.
Nauru’s announcement on Jan. 15 came just two days after Taiwan elected a new president and left the self-governing island republic with just 12 remaining diplomatic allies, although it enjoys strong unofficial relations with the United States, Japan and other nations.
China claims Taiwan as its territory and doesn’t recognize its government or its right to diplomatic recognition, participation in global bodies such as the United Nations or any official contact with foreign political entities.
“This policy change is a significant first step in moving forward with Nauru’s development,” Nauru’s government said in a news release announcing the severing of relations with Taiwan.
China has been gradually poaching Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, partly to punish the ruling Democratic Progressive Party that advocates maintaining the status quo under which Taiwan has its own government, military and de-facto independent status outside of the control of the People’s Republic of China, which has never governed the island.
Ten countries have switched ties from Taipei to Beijing since the initial election of DPP President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016.
China says that Taiwan must come under its control at some point and has staged military drills around the island to demonstrate its determination.
At the time of the break with Nauru, Taiwan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang accused China of purposefully timing the news to the election of current Vice President Lai Ching-te as the island’s new leader. He said China’s authoritarian one-party Communist government’s intention was to “attack the democracy and freedom that the Taiwanese people are proud of.”
Taiwan now has official ties with 11 countries and the Vatican. Seven are in Latin America and the Caribbean, three are in the Pacific islands and one is in Africa.
Nauru’s switching of relations has further intensified the focus on Taiwan’s remaining allies, most of which are developing nations seen as vulnerable to China’s global influence and willingness to offer hefty financial inducements.