By Henry Srebrnik, [Summerside, PEI] Journal Pioneer
As the People’s Republic of China celebrated
its 70th anniversary Oct. 1, the communist giant continued to increase
its pressure on Taiwan.
It considers the island to be part of the country and is determined
to isolate it diplomatically and eventually reunite it with the
In recent weeks, it pressured two small Pacific Island states to switch their diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.
Since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive
Party took office in 2016, seven countries – El Salvador, Panama, Sao
Tome and Principe, the Dominican Republic, and Burkina Faso – have
already switched their allegiance to Beijing.
Tsai opposes closer political integration with China, ahead of a Jan.
11 presidential election on the democratically ruled island.
The Solomon Islands changed its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China on Sept. 16.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the Solomon Islands cabinet
approved a resolution recognizing Beijing as the government of China.
China’s foreign ministry said in a statement it “highly commends” the decision to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
“We welcome this decision by the Solomon Islands and support the
country to move forward in the development path it has chosen for
itself,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
The Solomon Islands had conducted a weeks-long review of its policy
towards China, which was offering $8.5 million in development funds to
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu accused China of engaging in “dollar diplomacy” to obtain recognition.
Four days later, the Pacific nation of Kiribati also broke relations with Taiwan and recognized the Beijing regime.
“We support this important decision by Kiribati as a sovereign and
independent nation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told
“There is only one China in the world, and the People’s Republic of
China government is the sole legal government representing the whole of
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry stated that it “deeply regrets and strongly
condemns the Kiribati government’s decision, which disregards the
multifaceted assistance and sincere friendship extended by Taiwan to
Kiribati over the years.”
The statement said that Beijing had lured Kiribati into switching
diplomatic recognition by promising full funding, rather than loans, for
airplanes and commercial ferries.
Beijing’s drive to cut off Taiwan’s diplomatic partners has fuelled
worries in Washington and among U.S. allies such as Australia. The
Solomon Islands and Kiribati are both located in waters that have been
dominated by them since World War Two.
Kiribati occupies a strategic location roughly halfway between the
United States and Australia. The latter, along with Taiwan, has been a
leading donor to Pacific nations, but Beijing is increasingly
challenging that position.
The decisions by the two island countries were a major win for China
as it seeks to turn a dwindling number of countries that recognize
Taiwan into acknowledging the People’s Republic.
The losses leave Taiwan recognized by only 15 countries, mostly small
nations in the Pacific and Latin America. If Taiwan eventually loses
all diplomatic allies, it could weaken its claim to be a sovereign
Still, domestic support for Taiwanese president Tsai has improved
against a backdrop of rising anti-China sentiment in Taiwan amid
continued anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed early this year to start
exploring a Taiwanese version of the governance formula under which
Beijing guaranteed Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy when it was
returned to China in 1997. Tsai has categorically rejected his overture.