Tsai blames Beijing for Solomon Islands' decision


TAIPEI, Taiwan-President Tsai Ing-wen had stern words for Beijing at a press conference on September 16, after the island's diplomatic ally, the Solomon Islands, voted to drop recognition of Taiwan in favor of China.

Yang, together with Penghu County chief Lai Feng-wei (賴峰偉), and Lienchiang County chief Liu Cheng-ying (劉增應), visited Beijing on August 12 to meet with Liu Jieyi (劉結一), director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, to ask China to remove their islands from the ban on individual travel by Chinese nationals to Taiwan. Its decision on Monday dealt her a new blow in her struggle to secure re-election in January amid criticism of her handling of Beijing and rising tension with China.

Taiwan has formal relations with only 16 countries worldwide.

The Chinese regime considers Taiwan part of its territory despite the fact that the island is a full-fledged democracy with its own elected officials, military, and currency.

Taiwanese media reported last week that a Solomons delegation that visited Beijing met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and agreed to lobby its government to switch ties in exchange for US$500 million in financial assistance from China.

Taiwan had been lobbying hard to prevent the switch, but the desire to change course, driven by motivations known only to government, was too strong.

"I want to emphasize that Taiwan will not engage in dollar diplomacy with China in order to satisfy unreasonable demands", she said.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a press release before Tsai's press conference, stated that Beijing has "bought off a few [Solomon] politicians" and pushed the Solomons government into breaking off ties with Taiwan before Beijing celebrates its National Day on October 1.

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Solomon islands flag with China flag.

Taiwan's foreign minister, Joseph Wu, said Taipei would immediately close its embassy in the Solomon Islands and recall all its diplomats.

Since her election, six of Taiwan's allies have now defected.

A switch in allegiance would be a prize for Beijing in its campaign to secure allies from democratic Taiwan.

Taiwan vowed to fight China's "increasingly out of control" behaviour after El Salvador switched its allegiance to Beijing a year ago. China suspects Tsai of pushing for Taiwan's formal independence, a red line for Beijing.

Over the decades, dozens of countries, including the U.S. and most western nations, have switched recognition to Beijing, leaving just a handful of countries loyal to Taiwan, largely in Latin America and the Pacific.

The swap will enhance China's growing presence in the string of lightly populated South Pacific islands where Taiwan and the United States - which fought key battles during World War II on Guadalcanal, the Solomons' main island and site of its capital - once held sway.

And it leaves Taiwan more isolated than ever with just 16 nations left that recognise it.