China extends influence in Pacific as Solomon Islands break with Taiwan

China extends influence in Pacific as Solomon Islands break with Taiwan

Taiwan vowed to fight China's "increasingly out of control" behaviour after El Salvador switched its allegiance to Beijing a year ago.

"The government hereby declares the termination of diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands with immediate effect", Wu said, adding Taiwanese diplomats were being withdrawn from Honiara and that Solomons envoys would be expected to do the same.

The Little Red Podcast, made my academics at the Australian National University, was examining the Solomons' pending decision on whether to switch diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China.

China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately comment on Monday, nor did the most authoritative state mouthpieces. "The government strongly condemns this and urges people to hold on to its sovereignty and the value of freedom and democracy", Wu said.

"Prime Minister Sogavare has not only broken his own public promise, but also disregarded the fruits of the 36 years of cooperation between Taiwan and Solomon Islands."

Wu accused China of luring away the Pacific ally before Taiwan's presidential and legislative elections with a clear attempt to sway the January polls.

The statement went on to allege China attempted to "buy off" officials in Solomon Islands.

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

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.

"I don't think any of Solomon Islands' neighbours, and that includes Australia, will really be surprised by this decision", he said.

Taiwan's representative office in the Solomon Islands called the report a "fallacy" and said the taskforce members did not conduct proper fact-finding.

It has also ramped up military drills and squeezed the island economically.

Taiwan has been a de facto sovereign nation since the end of a civil war in 1949, but China still views the island as its territory and has vowed to seize it - by force if necessary.

Taiwan donates large amounts of aid to these countries, and works hard to cultivate relationships with their political leaders.

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

Mr Batley said he did not think other countries in the Pacific would necessarily follow suit, however winning over Solomon Islands was a "big prize" for China.

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