Taiwan faced another setback in its diplomatic relations as the Pacific Island nation of Nauru announced the termination of ties with Taiwan and the establishment of diplomatic relations with China. The move, characterized by Taiwan as sudden and a deliberate attempt by Beijing to undermine its democratic achievements, comes just days after Taiwan’s presidential election.
Lai Ching-te, the current vice president and a strong advocate for Taiwan’s distinct identity and sovereignty, secured the presidency, marking a historic third consecutive term for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Beijing had cautioned against his election, emphasizing the increased risk of conflict.
China, asserting its claim over Taiwan as its own territory, intensified diplomatic pressure on Taipei in recent years, leading to the loss of 10 diplomatic allies during the DPP’s eight years in power. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned China for Nauru’s diplomatic switch, accusing Beijing of attempting to suppress Taiwan’s democratic achievements.
Taiwan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang labeled Nauru’s decision as a sudden move, and in response, Taiwan announced the immediate suspension of all official interactions with Nauru. This includes closing its embassy and requesting Nauru to close its embassy in Taiwan.
Tien also alleged that Chinese officials had courted politicians in Nauru with offers of economic assistance, although he refrained from specifying the amount. The Chinese Foreign Ministry welcomed Nauru’s decision, stating it was made independently and aligned with the one-China principle.
This marks the second time Nauru has severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan, having done so previously in 2002, followed by a resumption in 2005. Nauru justified its resumption of diplomatic relations with China as being in the best interests of the country and its people, recognizing Taiwan as an inalienable part of China’s territory.
With Nauru’s shift, Taiwan is left with only 12 diplomatic allies, primarily comprising small nations in the Pacific Ocean and Latin America, along with the Vatican. The announcement coincided with an unofficial US delegation expressing unwavering support for Taiwan during a visit, despite formal diplomatic ties being severed in 1979. Analysts highlight the significance of unofficial relationships with powerful Western nations, which play a crucial role for Taiwan in international advocacy, given its exclusion from institutions like the United Nations.