Ties with the Marshall Islands have not changed, despite the election of a pro-China candidate as the South Pacific nation's president, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
Lawmakers in the Marshall Islands elected Litokwa Tomeing as president yesterday, a move that could threaten the nation's diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh's (葉非比) comments came as Taipei continued to reel over ally Malawi's decision last week not to receive Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (
Yeh said Tomeing was committed to maintaining ties with Taiwan, despite his previous pledge to switch to Beijing.
"Tomeing said repeatedly after being elected as a member of parliament in December that the Marshall Islands should keep ties with Taiwan," she said. "Taiwan's ties with the Marshall Islands remain unchanged."
Previously, Tomeing had promised to end the Marshalls' diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and adhere to Beijing's "one China" policy that recognizes Taiwan as Chinese territory. Taiwanese officials have accused China of interfering in the Marshalls' elections by funneling money through local businessmen to opposition candidates.
In recent years, China's rising political and economic clout has helped it persuade countries to recognize Beijing instead of Taipei, reducing the number of Taiwan's allies to only 24 -- most of them small nations in Latin America, Africa and the South Pacific.
Tomeing beat former two-term President Kessai Note by 18 votes to 15. The Marshall Islands head of state is elected by its parliament.
Commenting on the Malawi situation, a senior diplomat from the ministry said on Sunday that the African nation will likely announce its decision to switch recognition at a time dictated by Beijing.
He added that it would likely be prior to Saturday's legislative elections.
Additional reporting by CNA
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