The small country is one of only four countries in the Pacific that still maintain official ties with Taiwan as China backs China in the region.
The leader of the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu has promised to “stay strong” with Taiwan, as China expands its influence in the region.
Tuvalu, with a population of about 10,000, is one of 14 countries that maintain full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, an autonomous democracy that Beijing claims as its own, and one of only four. in the Pacific where China is stepping up efforts to gain support.
Speaking at a welcome ceremony in Taipei chaired by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Prime Minister of Tuvalu Kaosystem Natano said “common values and kindness” have always been an added strength to the relationship between the two countries. surname. Tuvalu has maintained diplomatic relations with Taipei for over 40 years.
“Through the tumultuous times of geostrategic agendas, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to remain a loyal and long-term ally of the Republic of China,” Natano said, referring to Taiwan by Official name.
“I recognize the foundations of our diplomatic relationship, involving two nations founded on the principles of democracy, trust, human rights and individual freedom.”
Natano is making her first trip to Taiwan since being elected in 2019.
Tsai praised their strong friendship and thanked Tuvalu for speaking out for Taiwan on the world stage and supporting their international engagement.
“I extend my sincere thanks to Tuvalu for its priceless friendship,” she said.
Taiwan lost two Pacific allies to Beijing in 2019: Solomon Islands and Kiribati. Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands, like Tuvalu, stuck with Taipei.
The Solomon Islands have become the focal point of the increasingly escalating rivalry between China and the United States in the strategically important region and strained relationship with the United States and its allies since reaching the summit. security treaty with China this year.
The decision to switch diplomatic relations has also created some concern in the nation of 700,000 people. Last November, the capital Honiara was rocked by riots emphasizing domestic competition and alarmed about the government’s growing relationship with China. At least three people have been killed in the unrest, which ended after the government asked for support from Australia, which has a longstanding security treaty with the Solomon Islands.
The US says it has a plan reopening of the embassy in Honiara and promised more diplomatic and security assistance to the region. President Joe Biden will host leaders of Pacific island nations in Washington, D.C. from September 28-29.