Published: Fri, September 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Kiribati severs ties to Taiwan, switches diplomatic relations to China

Kiribati severs ties to Taiwan, switches diplomatic relations to China

"We will provide an explanation to the public once we obtain further information", MOFA said.

"Wu said China had used investments in fisheries and other industries to build up a presence in Kiribati, penetrating political circles and extending its influence".

Steele did not elaborate and USAID did not immediately respond to a request for details.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang made the comments at a regular press briefing Friday.

"Those who are accustomed to buying diplomatic allies with money may not understand that principles can not be bought and trust can not be bought", Geng said.

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.

China claims Taiwan as its territory and says the democratic island has no right to formal ties with any country. "We think it's a huge mistake", Tsai told reporters, warning of more "Chinese intimidation" ahead of the vote in January.

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"China's worldwide pressure will only consolidate the Taiwanese people's determination never to capitulate to the Chinese government", he said.

Since 1949, when Chiang Kai Shek took refuge there, the island of Taiwan is the seat of the government of the Republic of China.

"It is clear that broader geopolitics played as important a role in Beijing's calculations as the desire to punish the Tsai administration", wrote Michael Cole, a senior fellow in the Taiwan studies programme at Nottingham university, in the Nikkei Asian Review.

Kwei-bo Huang, vice dean of global affairs at the National ChengChi University in Taiwan, said China's diplomatic campaign was an effort to thwart the Taiwan independence movement and disrupt the "increasingly salient supportive attitude of the United States toward Taiwan" in recent years.

Kiribati is the seventh country to drop Taiwan as a diplomatic ally since 2016, following Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, El Salvador and the Solomon Islands.

Her main challenger Han Kuo-yu, from the opposition Kuomintang party, favours rebooting the relationship with Beijing.

"Except for blaming China, President Tsai doesn't have any solution for the problem", the party said in a statement.

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