China and former Taiwan ally the Solomon Islands established diplomatic ties on Saturday in a sign of Beijing’s growing influence in the Pacific. In a setback for self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as a province, Beijing this month won over two previous Taiwanese allies in the Pacific — the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, told reporters in Beijing after signing diplomatic ties with the Solomon Islands that it was “neither reasonable nor sustainable” for them not to have formal ties. “This was a strategic decision, a transparent decision and a natural decision,” Mr. Wang said of the Solomon Island’s decision to desert Taiwan, standing next to Solomon Islands’ Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele in Beijing.
Mr. Wang added a warning for Taiwan, whose President Tsai Ing-wen is gearing up for re-election in January. “China must and will be reunified. Factually and legally, Taiwan island has been and will always remain an inalienable part of China’s territory. This status will not change, and is impossible to change,” he said.
Taiwan now with formal relations with just 15 countries, mostly small and poor nations in Latin America and the Pacific, including Nauru, Tuvalu and Palau.