17 Sep 2019

Taiwan cuts ties with Solomon Islands, accuses China of 'dollar diplomacy'

4:55 am on 17 September 2019

Taiwan has cut its diplomatic ties with Solomon Islands and recalled its ambassador, accusing China of "dollar diplomacy" in the Pacific.

The move was announced in a statement released on Monday by Taiwan's ministry of foreign affairs.

"The government hereby declares the termination of diplomatic relations with Solomon Islands with immediate effect, the end of all bilateral co-operative projects, as well as the recall of the staff of its Embassy, technical mission, and medical mission stationed in Solomon Islands," the statement said.

"The Taiwan government also demands that Solomon Islands immediately recall its government personnel from Taiwan."

It condemned a decision by the Solomon Islands cabinet to switch the country's diplomatic relations to the People's Republic of China, saying it was without proper public consultation, ending a 36 year long friendship with Taiwan.

Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen shakes hands with Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare, 2017.

In happier times, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen shakes hands with Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare in 2017. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Taiwan has now lost six allies in a little over two years with only 16 countries that still recognise its independence from China.

The split with Solomon Islands is a massive dent in Taiwan's diplomatic armour as it was one of the oldest, and is the largest of Taiwan's Pacific allies.

The remaining ones are Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu.

In its statement Taiwan accuses China of resorting to "dollar diplomacy" and "false promises" to secure a Solomons' switch before Beijing's national day on 1 October.

"Beijing's purpose is to diminish Taiwan's international presence, hurt the Taiwanese people, and gradually suppress and eliminate Taiwan's sovereignty," it said.

Other countries which have switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China since 2016 include Panama, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso and Sao Tome and Principe.

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.

The Solomon Islands government has yet to respond to Taiwan's statement but for now the Pacific Island nation has no diplomatic relations with either Taiwan or China.