Taiwan says Solomon Islands switches recognition to China
Taiwan says Solomon Islands switches recognition to China
Solomon Islands govt decides to cut ties with Taiwan – official media
19 September, 2019, 14:28
The Solomon Islands is the sixth country to cut ties with Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, leaving Taiwan with only 16 diplomatic allies left, Belize being counted among them.
The switch has geopolitical significance which will be felt as far away as Washington because the Solomon Islands are located directly between Australia and the USA, and were the site of fierce battles during the Second World War.
Earlier in the day, the Solomon Islands' Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement voted 27-0, with six abstentions, to establish diplomatic ties with China. He says the Cabinet then voted unanimously in favor of the change.
Australia's former high commissioner to the Solomons, James Batley, said it was not a foregone conclusion that other Taiwanese allies would follow Honiara's lead.
A senior official familiar with Taiwan's security planning told Reuters Beijing had issued an "urgent order" to secure the Solomon Islands' allegiance "at any cost" on Sunday night.
"The Chinese side highly appreciates the Solomon Islands government's decision to ... sever the so-called "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan authorities", Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement shortly before midnight.
China suspects Tsai of pushing for formal independence for Taiwan, which was established by the defeated nationalists following the civil war 70 years ago.
The diplomatic switch reduces the number of countries that recognise Taiwan to 16.
Taiwan has also accused Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare of breaking his promise to hold public consultations and hold off on a decision until the completion of multiple reviews of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The remaining ones are Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu.
U.S. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said the U.S. shouldn't stay silent.
"The Solomon Islands has officially become the latest nation to bow to Chinese gov't pressure and sever ties with Taiwan", Rubio tweeted.
Solomon Islands student studying in Taiwan are shocked at the sudden bilateral switch saying, this decision comes at the expense of their future.
But he said the Solomons needs to be careful not to get into serious debt to China, particularly as, even before the switch, it was looking to take out big loans to fund infrastructure projects including a hydroelectric dam. Taiwan shot back with a warning last week that the country would fall into "economic slavery" if it aligned with China.
Taiwan said the decision by the Solomon Islands is evidence of China seeking to influence its upcoming presidential and legislative elections while calling on the global community to "take note of China's relentless campaign to expand its authoritarianism, set debt traps for other countries and fulfill its strategic goals and gain influence in the Indo-Pacific region".
"We welcome the Solomon Islands in seizing a historical opportunity", she added.
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