Taiwan loses another diplomatic ally as Nauru recognizes China

The Pacific island nation of Nauru announced on Monday it was severing diplomatic ties with Taiwan and instead recognizing China.

The diplomatic switch shocked analysts and shaved Taiwan’s diplomatic allies down to less than a dozen nations. In a statement posted online, Nauru’s government said the move was “in the best interests” of the country.

“This means that the Republic of Nauru will no longer recognize 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,” it said in a statement.

The surprise announcement came just two days after a historic election delivered Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party an unprecedented third term in office.

Beijing, which has never ruled Taiwan, claims the island democracy as part of its territory. Xi Jinping, China’s strongest leader in decades, has insisted Beijing’s rule there is “inevitable.”

The announcement by Nauru marks another win for Beijing in its global pressure campaign to poach the remaining countries that recognize Taiwan.

“China is suppressing us and using money diplomacy in every possible way,” Tien Chung-kwang, Taiwan’s deputy foreign minister, said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.

“No matter what the election result is, China is always trying to suffocate Taiwan in any international arena,” said Tien.

Nauru had asked for a “huge amount” of economic assistance from Taiwan in recent years, said Tien.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs received notice of Nauru’s plans to cut ties just before noon on Monday, he said.

Nauru previously dropped Taipei for Beijing from 2002 to 2005. Taiwanese officials said China had offered Nauru millions of dollars in aid that Taipei had not been willing to escalate into a bidding war to match.

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