Nauru, a small Micronesian island lying roughly 4,000 km north-east of Australia, has announced that it will terminate all diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The country has released a statement affirming, “This means that the Republic of Nauru will no longer recognise the Republic of China (Taiwan) as a separate country but rather as an inalienable part of China’s territory, and will sever ‘diplomatic relations’ with Taiwan as of this day and no longer develop any official relations or official exchanges with Taiwan,”. This comes shortly after Taiwan’s presidential cum parliamentary elections which saw the victory of Democratic Progressive Party’s William Lai.
China and Taiwan’s Tense Relations
China has always opposed Taiwan’s sovereign claims and continues to make attempts to squash its independent status. The victory of pro-sovereignty candidate Lai Ching-te (also known as William Lai) thus, comes as a severe blow to the former’s repeated efforts at ‘reunification’. China has thus, retaliated by nabbing one of Taipei’s allies, Nauru. As of now, Taipei is left with 12 allies which include Marshall Islands, the Holy See (Vatican City), Gautemala, Haiti, Belize, Paraguay and others.
As per BBC, Taipei’s deputy foreign minister Tien Chung-kwang stated in a media conference on January 15 that China “bought over” Nauru with financial aid in response to the latter’s recent political turmoil. This is the second time since 2002 when Nauru first severed ties with Taiwan in favor of China only to restore it in May of 2005. According to Mihai Sora, a research fellow in the Pacific Islands Program at Lowy Institute, China strategically targets islands in the Pacific which are often in need of developmental assistance and wins them over through funding and aids.
US Expresses Disapproval
According to a report by NDTV, the State Department in Washington regards Nauru’s move disappointing stating, “While the Government of Nauru’s action on January 15 to sever its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan is a sovereign decision, it is nonetheless a disappointing one,”. It also claimed how China often seeks out diplomatic ties by “promises” which mostly go “unfulfilled”.
Nauru cited UN Resolution 2758 in establishing diplomatic relations with China. This move also drew criticism from the chair of the US’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, Laura Rosenberger. “UN Resolution 2758 did not make a determination on the status of Taiwan, does not preclude countries from having diplomatic relations with Taiwan and does not preclude Taiwan from meaningful participation in the UN system,”. Rosenberger further said, “It is disappointing to see distorted narratives about UN resolution 2758 being used as a tool to pressure Taiwan, limit its voice on the international stage and influence its diplomatic relationships.”