Minister of Foreign Affairs Eugene Chien (簡又新) announced yesterday that Taiwan had established diplomatic ties with Kiribati, an island country located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. \nKiribati, a nation consisting of a group of 33 coral atolls, straddles the equator. It becomes Taiwan's 27th diplomatic ally and the first one added since President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) took office. \nThe Kiribati Foreign Ministry made the same announcement earlier than its counterpart here, stating that it will "continue to recognize the government of [the People's Republic of China]" and expressing the hope that its relations with China "will continue to prosper in the future." \nNevertheless, China is expected to cut ties with Kiribati within a fortnight, as it has to several previous allies that opted to also recognize Taiwan, Chien said. \nIn the Pacific, Kiribati joins the Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands in having ties with Taiwan. \nKiribati said it will support international recognition of Taiwan, which is not a member of the UN and many other international organizations because of China's opposition. \nChien said diplomats from Taiwan had been visiting Kiribati in secret since the middle of last year and that the diplomatic achievement was the result of a "long, nervous, tortuous and complicated" negotiating process. \nKiribati provides one of three Chinese space-monitoring stations overseas and played a role in China's first manned space mission. Financial aid from China is a critical supplement to Kiribati's income. \nAccording to Chien's description, an intense tug-of-war between diplomats from Taiwan and China had been running on the arena of tiny Kiribati, with 811km2 of land -- three times the size of Taipei City. \nSome high-ranking Chinese officials were present in Kiribati last week, said Chien, to make last-minute efforts to stop the country from forging diplomatic ties with Taiwan. \nChien refused to give any details of aid packages offered to Kiribati by either China or Taiwan but said that one of the reasons for establishing ties with Taiwan was that China had failed to make good on many of its promises of aid to the island nation. \nChien stressed that Taiwan will cooperate with Kiribati on agriculture, fisheries, health and education. \nAnote Tong, Kiribati's part ethnic-Chinese president, played "a significant role" in establishing the diplomatic ties with Taiwan, Chien said. \nChien said his first talks with Tong, which were conducted outside Taiwan, were very pleasant, and he praised the London School of Economics and Political Science graduate's views on international relations. \nTong and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Tou Chou-seng (杜筑生) held talks over the past week that led to an agreement, Kiribati's Foreign Ministry said. \nTaiwan's embassy officially opened in Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, yesterday. \nPresident Chen and Premier Yu Shyi-kun have been aware of the progress of negotiations with Kiribati, said Chien. \nChen, who just returned from a trip to the US and Panama on Thursday, lauded the ministry's performance, Chien said. \nReporters asked Chien whether the government intended to boost Chen's diplomatic credits by choosing to announce the new ties with Kiribati one day after Chen returned from his foreign trip. \nChien denied the timing of the announcement had anything to do with next March's presidential election. \nTarawa is about one-half of the way from Hawaii to Australia. Its islands were granted self-rule by the UK in 1971 and the country completed independence in 1979. It is a member of the Commonwealth. \nHome to a population less than 100,000, Kiribati's ethnic groups are predominantly Micronesian with some Polynesians. Kiribati has few natural resources. Tourism provides more than one-fifth of its GDP.
‘IRRATIONAL ACTS’: The defense ministry condemned the drills, during which China tested successors to missiles deployed during the Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995 and 1996 China yesterday fired several Dongfeng ballistic missiles as it began four days of unprecedented military drills off Taiwan proper following US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei the previous day. On Tuesday, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) said Beijing would “take all necessary measures” in retaliation should Pelosi visit Taiwan during her Asia tour. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from 1:56pm to 4pm fired 11 Dongfeng missiles into waters north, east and south of Taiwan proper, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said. Taiwanese armed forces, using “forward warning and surveillance mechanisms,” monitored the missile tests
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‘IRRATIONAL ACTION’: China’s planned drills off Taiwan proper spurred the nation to ‘prepare for war, but we do not seek it,’ a spokesman for the defense ministry said The military is ready to counter “any actions that threaten national sovereignty,” Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Sun Li-fang (孫立方) said yesterday in response to China’s announcement of military drills near Taiwan. The Chinese military on Tuesday announced it would hold air and sea live-fire exercises in six locations off Taiwan proper from noon today until noon on Sunday. The drills would be in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week, which China said breached the “one China” principle — a claim that the US has denied. The drills would be “an irrational action