Nauru will retain long-standing ties with Taiwan, Nauruan President Lionel Aingimea said yesterday, a welcome boost for Taipei after two Pacific states switched diplomatic recognition to China this month.
The small developing nations lie in strategic Pacific waters dominated by the US and its allies since World War II, where Beijing’s moves to expand its influence have angered Washington.
“Nauru considers its relationship with Taiwan as that of family and we stand with Taiwan,” Aingimea said in an e-mail, dispelling fears of a switch after he defeated his predecessor, Baron Waqa, in last month’s election.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
Taiwan cut diplomatic ties with the Solomon Islands and Kiribati on Monday and Friday last week respectively after they switched allegiance to Beijing.
That leaves Taiwan with 15 diplomatic allies — many of which are small, less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific, including Belize and Nauru.
Seven nations have dropped Taiwan as a diplomatic ally since 2016, though the support of Nauru should stem the tide, at least for now.
“The former president of Nauru was famous for being the best friend of Taiwan, going as far as to serenade the president of Taiwan with You’re My Best Friend,” said Jonathan Pryke of Australia’s Lowy Institute think tank.
“The new president was a wild card,” he said. “This announcement means Taiwan can take a breath, but it is clear that they need to be very diligent in the Pacific.”
In related news, the Marshallese legislature has passed a unanimous resolution to give firm support to its diplomatic alliance with Taiwan, Marshallese President Hilda Heine told President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Wednesday.
Heine telephoned Tsai to tell her about the resolution — passed on Sept. 17 — that her country would firmly support the Taiwan-Marshall Islands diplomatic alliance and Taiwan’s right to have fair access to international activities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said.
Heine also reiterated her government’s determination to maintain the friendship, said Ou, who conveyed the ministry’s thanks to the Marshallese president and legislature for their support and friendship.
Taiwan will continue to deepen its cooperation with the central Pacific nation, Ou added.
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