Kiribati becomes the second country in a week to sever ties with Taiwan

By Xie Wenting and Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/20 15:40:05 Last Updated: 2019/9/21 13:11:09

The President of Kiribati Taneti Mamau. Photo: VCG

Kiribati is the second country to break ties with the island of Taiwan in less than a week, with observers predicting that more nations from the Pacific would cut ties before October, and accelerate the building of diplomatic ties with the Chinese mainland. 

The remarks were made after Kiribati officially notified Taiwan on Friday that it was cutting "diplomatic ties," Joseph Wu, "foreign minister" of Taiwan, told reporters at a hastily organized press conference. 

Geng Shuang, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told Friday's regular media conference that China supports the important decision made by Kiribati as a sovereign independent state after the country cut "diplomatic ties" with the island of Taiwan and resumed diplomatic relations with Chinese mainland. 

Kiribati will see many development opportunities through cooperation with the Chinese mainland, Geng said. He stressed that principles and trust cannot be bought, dismissing rumors that the Chinese mainland used money to convince Kiribati to break ties with the island of Taiwan.

The Taiwan Affairs Office of China's State Council also highly commended Kiribati government's decision.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson of the office, said the unreasonable accusations of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) against the Kiribati government are inconsistent with what they had said about Kiribati in the past, and they are extremely disrespectful to the country and its people. 

Experts predicted that more countries which have "diplomatic ties" with the island of Taiwan are likely to join Kiribati and Solomon Islands in the near future. 

It is an irreversible trend that more countries will accelerate the pace of establishing ties with the Chinese mainland, which is likely to usher in a small wave of establishing diplomatic ties in the coming weeks, Yin Cunyi, a professor at the School of Public Policy and Management and executive associate dean at the Institute of Taiwan Studies of Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday.

Located in the Central Pacific Ocean, Kiribati is about 4,000 kilometers southwest of Hawaii and consists of 33 coral islands. The Chinese mainland closed its space-tracking station in Kiribati after the country recognized Taiwan in 2003.

More to come 

The ripple effect of breaking ties with Taiwan will surely continue, and Kiribati won't be the last one, Yang Lixian, a research fellow at the Beijing-based Research Center of Cross-Straits Relations, told the Global Times.

Yang noted that with limited resources and power, the island of Taiwan can only offer petty favors for its allies, which are incomparable with what these countries can benefit under cooperation with the Chinese mainland which advocates mutually beneficial and equal cooperation. 

While they are facing pressure from some Western countries, many people in the Pacific countries, including Palau and Nauru, have shown willingness to seek cooperation with the Chinese mainland and sever ties with Taiwan, Yu Lei, chief research fellow at the research center for Pacific island countries of Liaocheng University in East China's Shandong Province, told the Global Times on Friday.

Haiti was planning to cut ties, Wang Hau-yu, a "councilor" of Taoyuan city in Taiwan, said on Facebook earlier this month. 

Enele Sopoaga, former prime minister of Tuvalu, a strong supporter of the island of Taiwan, stepped down after a general election on Thursday. The act was deemed as a blow for its "ally," the island of Taiwan.

Yin said the possibility of other South Pacific or Caribbean countries cutting "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan before October 1 should not be dismissed.

Taiwan has only 15 remaining "diplomatic allies." 

Groundless accusation 

Kiribati is the seventh country to cut "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, following Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and the Solomon Islands.

Taiwan's "diplomatic" unrest should provoke Tsai to consider that by sabotaging cross-Straits relations, the island's situation will only deteriorate, Yang noted. 

After the Solomon Islands cut relations, Tsai accused the Chinese mainland of using "financial and political pressure."  

Taiwan authorities hyped the groundless accusation that the Chinese mainland used a Boeing 737 to demand that Kiribati cut "diplomatic ties." 

Tsai said on Friday afternoon that it is "a big mistake" for Kiribati to give up on Taiwan.

The usual practice of the DPP is to weave lies to divert attention and deceive the vast number of Taiwan compatriots. They have done this in the past and will continue to do so, said Ma. 

People on both sides of the Taiwan Straits see it clearly. Only by upholding the one-China principle can cross-Straits relations be improved and developed, said Ma, noting that Taiwan compatriots can obtain a better livelihood and welfare, greater development space, and more security and dignity.

"Some people in the island of Taiwan used this line to confuse right and wrong," Geng said on Friday. 

Yu told the Global Times some Western countries offer Kiribati more aid than the Chinese mainland does. "The decision to cut ties, which will surely infuriate its biggest aiders, is unlikely made because of 'China's aid,'" Yu said. 

Countries in the Pacific, including Kiribati, are eyeing equal and beneficial cooperation with the Chinese mainland, as they see how other countries have benefited from their cooperation with the mainland, especially under the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), he added. 

The BRI will not only help connect island countries in the region, but could also expand the region's cooperation with Asian countries, Yu said.

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