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Solomon Islands abandons Taiwan recognition

September 17, 2019

The decision is a major win for China as it seeks to turn a dwindling number of countries that recognize Taiwan. The loss leaves Taiwan recognized by only 16 countries.

Taiwan Skyline in Taipei
Image: picture-alliance/Bildagentur-online/Yay

The Solomon Islands switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China on Monday, in a blow that leaves Taipei increasingly isolated.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry confirmed the Solomon Islands cabinet approved a resolution recognizing Beijing as the government of China and announced it would immediately close its embassy on the Pacific island nation.

Read more: China and Australia compete for influence in the Pacific

Self-ruled Taiwan broke away from the mainland in 1949 after communists in Beijing emerged victorious from a civil war. China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has vowed to retake it — even through military force. 

The Solomon Islands' defection leaves Taiwan recognized by just 16 countries, mostly small nations in the Pacific and Latin America. Since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, six countries have switched allegiance to Beijing.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu accused China of engaging in "dollar diplomacy" to obtain recognition.

China's foreign ministry said in a statement it "highly commends" the decision to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

"We stand ready to work with the Solomon Islands to open new broad prospects for our bilateral relations," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

Read more: US defense chief condemns China's action in Indo-Pacific

The Solomon Islands had conducted a weeks-long review of its policy towards China, which was offering in $8.5 million (€7.7 million) in development funds to replace Taiwan.

In the cabinet vote, there were 27 votes to shift ties and six abstentions, a Solomon Islands member of parliament told Reuters.

cw/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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