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Taiwan president-elect hails ‘solid’ US ties

US support for Taiwan 'firm', lawmakers tell president-elect Lai

Taiwan’s president-elect Lai Ching-te hailed the island’s “solid partnership” with Washington on Monday as he welcomed a US delegation — which China said it “firmly opposed”.

The island lost one of its few formal diplomatic allies on the same day, as Pacific nation Nauru unexpectedly announced it was severing ties and switching allegiance to Beijing.

The switch, just days after Taiwan’s presidential election, means only 12 nations now formally recognise Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of China.

Nauru’s announcement overshadowed the visit by the unofficial delegation sent by US President Joe Biden’s administration to congratulate Lai.

While Taiwan is not diplomatically recognised by the United States, Washington is a partner and its top weapons provider.

The Nauru government said it would no longer recognise Taiwan “as a separate country” but “rather as an inalienable part of China’s territory” — echoing Beijing’s position on the island.

Taiwan cut ties in return to “safeguard our national dignity”, and accused Beijing of buying Nauru off.

“China actively reached out to Nauru politicians and used economic aids to induce the country to switch diplomatic recognition,” said deputy foreign minister Tien Chung-kwang.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office called it a “wrong decision”, and accused China of wielding “diplomatic repression (as) a retaliation against democratic values”.

But China’s foreign ministry said Beijing’s resumption of ties with Nauru “reflects the sentiments of the people”.

At Taipei’s Diplomatic Headquarters — a building that houses most of the foreign embassies in Taiwan — Nauru’s flag was removed.

Losing Nauru comes as an early blow to Lai just two days after voters defied Beijing’s repeated calls not to elect him.

In the run-up to the poll, Chinese officials slammed Lai as a dangerous separatist who would take Taiwan down the “evil path” of independence.

“China actively reached out to Nauru politicians and used economic aids to induce the country to switch diplomatic recognition,” said deputy foreign minister Tien Chung-kwang.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office called it a “wrong decision”, and accused China of wielding “diplomatic repression (as) a retaliation against democratic values”.

But China’s foreign ministry said Beijing’s resumption of ties with Nauru “reflects the sentiments of the people”.

At Taipei’s Diplomatic Headquarters — a building that houses most of the foreign embassies in Taiwan — Nauru’s flag was removed.

Losing Nauru comes as an early blow to Lai just two days after voters defied Beijing’s repeated calls not to elect him.

In the run-up to the poll, Chinese officials slammed Lai as a dangerous separatist who would take Taiwan down the “evil path” of independence.

He reiterated to the delegates that under his future administration, “Taiwan will continue to defend peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait under the foundation built by President Tsai Ing-wen”.

The last time a US delegation visited immediately after an election was in 2016, after Tsai’s win, to meet her incoming team and the losing candidates.

Since then, China cut off all high-level communications, as Tsai and her party have defended Taiwan’s sovereignty by saying the island is “already independent”.

Beijing maintains a military presence around Taiwan, sending in warplanes and naval vessels near-daily — which conflict experts call “grey zone” actions that stop short of an outright act of war.

But the sabre-rattling has upped worries of possible accidents escalating into full-blown conflict.

Under Tsai’s two-term administration, Taiwan has greatly bolstered its defence resources — buying fighter jets and building its own submarine — as a form of deterrence against increasingly bellicose threats from China.

Her deputy Lai has vowed to follow the same policy path.

But he has been more outspoken in the past on the issue of independence, though he has moderated his comments to fit the party line in the lead-up to the election.

His win in Saturday’s vote delivered an unprecedented third term for the DPP, but they no longer have their majority in the legislature, losing 12 seats, while the main opposition Kuomintang party gained 14 seats.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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