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Nauru and Taiwan’s three other remaining Pacific allies have all reaffirmed diplomatic ties. Photo: AP

Taiwan’s last four Pacific allies pledge their loyalty after two nations switched to Beijing

  • Nauru president says country sees relationship ‘as that of family’, while Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Palau also reaffirmed diplomatic ties
  • Taipei’s largest ally in the region, the Solomons, switched recognition last week, followed four days later by Kiribati

The last of Taiwan’s four remaining allies in the Pacific reaffirmed diplomatic ties with Taipei on Thursday following last week’s defection of two nations to Beijing.

Nauru President Lionel Aingimea, who won office late last month, said his country “has enjoyed a close relationship with Taiwan for almost four decades and he looks forward to it continuing well into the future”.

“Nauru considers its relationship with Taiwan as that of family and we stand with Taiwan in upholding democratic values and the rule of law,” he said.

The pledge of loyalty will come as a relief to Taiwan, which lost its largest Pacific ally, the Solomon Islands, on September 17 after months of speculation over Honiara’s intentions.
That was followed four days later by Kiribati’s shock move into the Beijing stable, leaving Taiwan with just four nations that officially recognise it in the Pacific and 15 worldwide.
Nauru President Lionel Aingimea said the country looked forward to its relationship with Taiwan “continuing well into the future”. Photo: Twitter

Poaching two of Taipei’s highly prized allies was seen as a major diplomatic coup for Beijing just weeks before it celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

But Nauru’s statement means a flurry of high-level visits and diplomatic activity have paid off for Taiwan, with all four remaining Pacific partners vowing to remain steadfast.

The Marshall Islands parliament passed a resolution last week confirming ties and expressing “profound appreciation to the people and government of Taiwan”.

Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday “the government is quite happy to continue our relationship with Taiwan ... I don’t expect any changes”.

Palau President Tommy Remengesau said last week that his country had no plans to switch.

“We are friends with Taiwan because our principles and values are similar, our aspirations for democracy and freedom,” he told reporters.

Taiwan has been a de facto sovereign nation since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still views the island as its territory and has vowed to seize it, by force if necessary.

Beijing stepped up its campaign to diplomatically isolate Taiwan after President Tsai Ing-wen’s 2016 election because she hails from a party that refuses to recognise the idea that the island is part of “one China”.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Taipei's four remaining Pacific friends pledge to maintain ties