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Taiwan Loses Another Diplomatic Ally After Nauru Switches Ties to China

The government of Taiwan (Republic of China, ROC) has severed diplomatic relations with the Republic of Nauru following the Pacific island’s announcement on Monday that it would switch diplomatic ties to the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Nauru President Russ Kun meeting Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in November 2022. Official Photo by Makoto Lin / Office of the President

Nauru's decision came just two days after Taiwan's democratic elections which saw the victory of Democratic Progressive Party candidate Lai Ch’ing-te (賴清德) as President. The PRC claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to “reunify” with it, even by force.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the following statement:

“Our government has learned that the government of our Pacific friend, the Republic of Nauru, will sever diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on the grounds of United Nations Resolution 2758 and the ‘One-China Principle’.

“In order to safeguard national sovereignty and dignity, we have decided to terminate [diplomatic ties] with immediate effect, to completely suspend diplomatic relations and bilateral cooperation with the Republic of Nauru, to withdraw our embassy and technical delegation and other relevant personnel. Nauru has been asked to close its embassy in Taiwan.

“Over the years, our government has been promoting cooperation projects in Nauru that benefit its national economy and people's livelihood and assist her overall national development. However, Nauru still fails to understand how China uses financial gain as a lure. It has disregarded our country's long-term assistance and friendship, and entered into negotiations to establish diplomatic relations with China …

“While many democratic countries around the world congratulated Taiwan on its smooth election and democratic victory, the Beijing authorities chose to use this method to suppress Taiwan and impact the order and stability of the international community. This is a retaliation against democratic values and a blatant challenge to the international order. Of course, Beijing should bear the responsibility. We also call on the Beijing authorities to give up confrontation, return to the path of international order, and seek mutually beneficial and win-win joint efforts with Taiwan and all parties in the region.”

Since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, the PRC has intensified its pressure campaign against Taiwan, using a mix of economic incentives, political coercion, and military threats to isolate the country from the international community.

One of Beijing's strategies is to poach Taiwan's diplomatic allies in an attempt to weaken its legitimacy and sovereignty. Currently, Taiwan is left with only 12 diplomatic allies: Belize, Guatemala, Paraguay, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, Eswatini, and the Vatican City.

By reducing Taiwan's diplomatic space, the PRC hopes to force Taiwan to accept its "one country, two systems" formula, which would grant Taiwan a degree of autonomy under Beijing's sovereignty. However, this proposal has been widely rejected by the Taiwanese people, especially after witnessing the erosion of freedoms and rights in Hong Kong, which operates under the same framework.

Resolution 2758 is a resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly on October 25, 1971, that recognized the PRC as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations, and expelled the ROC, which had been representing China since 1945.

The “one China principle” (一个中国原则) is a diplomatic doctrine of the PRC which states that “There is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.”


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