Soloman Islands breaks ties with Taiwan after Chinese 'dollar diplomacy'

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has seen six countries switch alliance to China under her tenure. — Reuters pic

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized a report recently submitted by a Solomon Islands cross-party task force to the Sogavare government that recommended the nation sever its ties with Taiwan and switch diplomatic allegiance to China.

The Chinese government scored a fresh diplomatic coup after the Solomon Islands, a strategically significant archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, severed ties with Taipei in favour of Beijing.

President Tsai Ing Wen has been criticised over her handling of Beijing, while suspected of pushing for Taiwan's formal independence.

The Taipei government also condemned China's attempts to diminish Taiwan's worldwide presence and eliminate Taiwanese sovereignty.

"The people of Taiwan will not yield under pressure", she said.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu condemned the move Monday and announced that Taiwan would end aid programs and withdraw personnel from its embassy in the Solomon Islands.

"The Chinese government attacked Taiwan purposely before our presidential and legislative elections, obviously aiming to meddle with the voting".

The Solomon Islands, a country of about 600,000 people in the south Pacific, is the latest country to switch allegiance to China since Tsai came to office in 2016, following Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Panama and El Salvador. "China will never succeed in its attempt to sway Taiwan politics and elections".

Since Tsai's election, China has pressured global corporations to recognise Taiwan as a part of China and successfully persuaded a half-dozen countries to swap allegiances, using generous aid packages to escalate pressure on Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party.

The decision marks a blow for Taiwan, as the South Pacific has always been considered a stronghold in its diplomatic battle with China.

In a cabinet vote on Monday, there were 27 votes to shift ties and six abstentions, creating an "overwhelming" majority, a Solomon Islands member of parliament told Reuters.

Taiwan has also accused Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare of breaking his promise to hold public consultations and hold off on a decision until the completion of multiple reviews of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.

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