Beijing and Kiribati have established diplomatic relations, Chinese state media reported on Saturday, days after the tiny Pacific island nation severed its links with Taiwan. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Kiribati’s President Taneti Mamau on Friday signed a joint communique to establish formal ties on the sidelines of the United Nations climate summit, Xinhua said. The move is a coup for Beijing just days before it marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and comes a week after the Solomon Islands also dropped diplomatic ties with Taipei. And it leaves the self-ruled island more isolated than ever with just 15 states left that recognise it. Taiwan has been a de facto sovereign nation since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still views it as its territory and has vowed to seize it, by force if necessary. Over the decades, as China’s economic and military power has grown, most countries, including the United States and most Western nations, have switched recognition to Beijing. Only a handful, largely in Latin America and the Pacific, still recognise Taiwan . Taipei has accused Beijing of using “dollar diplomacy” to buy off its few remaining allies.、 The islands and atolls that make up Kiribati sprawl across the equator and are just south of the Marshall Islands, an important missile testing ground for the United States. Because of its location, Kiribati was home to Beijing’s first overseas space tracking station , which played an important role in the Shenzhou manned space missions and the Beidou navigation systems. The base, the China Space Tracking, Telemetry and Control Station, was established on South Tarawa Island in 1997, before the two countries broke off ties in 2003 and Kiribati switched recognition to Taipei. The station tracked many launches, including the Shenzhou V mission that carried the first Chinese astronaut into space on October 15, 2003. China has plans to build a permanent space station and land astronauts on the moon by 2030, a mission that would require a series of tracking outposts, including on the equator in the Pacific. Wang Shaohua, a former Chinese ambassador to Kiribati, said that without the Kiribati station, Beijing had to send ships to the Pacific for each satellite launch to track and control the rockets and satellites, an approach that was three times more expensive than using a station on land.