Taiwan and the Solomon Islands put on a display of friendship on Monday, pledging to deepen ties, even as rumors persist the Pacific nation is close to severing relations in favour of China.
President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan and the Solomon Islands would work together to strengthen bilateral ties as she met its foreign minister Jeremiah Manele.
“Taiwan and the Solomon Islands share values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the fight against climate change, and we are mutually supportive partners,” Tsai said, according to a statement from the Presidential Office.
The head of a Solomon Islands task force in charge of evaluating diplomatic ties said it’s time the country switched recognition to Beijing, according to a Reuters report last week.
For decades, Beijing and Taipei have competed with each other over diplomatic allies, each claiming to be the rightful government of China, after the two sides split amid civil war in 1949. As China’s economic and political influence has grown, it has succeeded in increasingly isolating Taiwan diplomatically in recent years. El Salvador switched recognition to Beijing last year, leaving just 17 countries that officially recognise Taiwan.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry remains confident of preventing another defection.