By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Nauru on Monday severed ties with Taiwan in favor of China in what Taipei denoted as a diplomatic blackmail orchestrated by Beijing.
In a statement, the government of Nauru said its diplomatic switch was "in the best interests" of the country.
"This means that the Republic of Nauru will no longer recognize Taiwan as a separate country but rather as an inalienable part of China’s territory, and will sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan as of this day and no longer develop any official relations or official exchanges with Taiwan, the Nauru government said.
Nauru said its decision was consistent with UN Resolution 2758, which recognizes China as the sole legal government representing the whole of China.
"Our government remains focused on moving Nauru forward and this policy change is a significant first step in moving forward with Nauru’s development,” the statement said.
In response, Taiwan's foreign ministry announced “with deep regret" the immediate termination of its diplomatic relations with Nauru "to safeguard national sovereignty and dignity."
Nauru’s sudden announcement, which came after Taiwan’s election, prompted Taipei to immediately cancel all bilateral projects, recall its diplomatic mission and demand the shutdown of its embassy in the Pacific island nation.
Nauru's diplomatic switch leaves Taiwan with only 12 allies including Guatemala, Paraguay, Palau, the Marshal Islands and Eswatini – formerly known as Swaziland.
While condemning Nauru for its action, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said, “Responsibility for all of this lies with Beijing.”
Taiwan’s diplomatic loss came after the country's election in which the incumbent vice president, William Lai Ching-te, won the three-way presidential elections with 40.5 percent of the vote.
Lai Ching-te’s electoral victory handed the ruling Democratic Progressive Party a historic third straight term.
"At this particular time, when many democratic nations across the world are congratulating Taiwan on the smooth completion of its elections and on a victory for democracy, the Beijing authorities chose such a way to suppress Taiwan, which constitutes an attack on the order and stability of the international community. Beijing’s actions are a repudiation of democratic values and an open challenge to the international order," Taipei said.
“China has long made efforts to approach prominent political figures in Nauru, offering economic assistance as an incentive to persuade Nauru to switch diplomatic recognition,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said.
After the new government assumed office, Taiwan said it promptly engaged Nauru regarding bilateral cooperation projects.
"However, Nauru repeatedly demanded massive amounts of economic assistance from Taiwan and proceeded to compare Taiwan’s aid proposals with those of China,” it added.
Taiwan noted its long-standing friendship with Nauru, saying it “demonstrated the greatest sincerity and, within its capacity, proposed assistance programs.”
The Taiwanese government said it has promoted cooperation projects in Nauru that have benefited people’s livelihoods and assisted Nauru’s overall national development.
“Nauru, however, lured by China’s enticements and disregarding the long-term assistance and friendship from Taiwan, began negotiations with China on the establishment of diplomatic relations,” the Taiwanese government said.
In a brief statement, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "China welcomes Nauru’s decision to sever 'diplomatic ties' with Taiwan and rejoin the one-China family. This is where global opinion trends. This is where the arc of history bends."
Taiwan’s foreign ministry urged Chinese authorities “to renounce confrontation, return to the international order, and pursue joint endeavors with Taiwan and all members of the region that benefit all parties and create win-win situations.”
Palau issued a statement expressing its continued support of Taiwan, which it said was "built on democratic principles."
The Palauan government congratulated Lai Ching-te on his election, adding that the Pacific nation celebrated "the spirit of friendship and mutual respect that defines our relationship with Taiwan."
"Taiwan has been a good friend to many small island nations, including Palau. Their support comes without qualifications, respecting the rule of law that allows nations to determine for themselves, without coercion, whom they can build diplomatic relations with. This is a testament to Taiwan’s respect for sovereignty and international law," the Palauan government said.
"In these times of heightened tensions, we look forward to strengthening our cooperation and working together toward a world where all nations can thrive in an environment of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence," it added.