The island’s government says it is ‘in the best interests’ of the country and its people to resume full diplomatic ties with Beijing.
The South Pacific nation of Nauru has announced it is severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan and would instead recognise China, according to a government post on social media.
President David Adeang announced the decision on Monday in a national address posted to an official Facebook page, explaining “the Nauru government’s decision to recognise the People’s Republic of China”.
The Nauru government said “in the best interests” of the country and its people it was seeking full resumption of diplomatic relations with China.
It added that it would “sever diplomatic relations” with Taiwan immediately, and “no longer develop any official relations or official exchanges” with it.
“This change is in no way intended to affect our existing warm relationships with other countries,” the Nauru government statement said.
“Nauru remains a sovereign and independent nation and wants to maintain friendly relations with other countries.”
Following the switch, Taiwan in turn said it was ending diplomatic relations with Nauru “to safeguard our national dignity”, said Taiwan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory with no right to state-to-state ties, a position Taiwan strongly disagrees.
China welcomes decision
The small Pacific Islands nation’s move marks Taiwan’s first diplomatic ally switching to Beijing following Saturday’s presidential election.
William Lai Ching-te from Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the election as expected and will take office on May 20.
Before the election, China called Lai a dangerous separatist.
China appreciates and welcomes the Nauru government’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday, following Nauru’s announcement.
Beijing is willing to open a new chapter in bilateral relations with Nauru on the basis of its one-China principle, the ministry said in a statement.
Nauru’s move leaves Taiwan with only 12 diplomatic allies that recognise the island as a sovereign state, including Guatemala, Paraguay, Palau, the Marshal Islands and Eswatini – formerly known as Swaziland.
Taiwan and China have engaged in a diplomatic tug-of-war to lure allies in the Pacific region, offering generous aid packages and assistance in agricultural and educational development.
Taiwan also cut its 17-year diplomatic relationship with Nauru in July 2002. But the two countries patched things up in 2005 when Nauru switched back to Taiwan.
The island microstate, with a population of 12,500, is one of the world’s smallest countries and lies about 4,000km (2,500 miles) northeast of the Australian city of Sydney.