South Asia and Beyond

Nauru Dumped Taiwan, Did China Pay $100 Million?

 Nauru Dumped Taiwan, Did China Pay $100 Million?

China, Nauru resume diplomatic relations

Did China offer the tiny Pacific island of Nauru $100 million to ditch Taiwan and establish diplomatic ties with Beijing? Was money also behind Nauru’s decision in 2002 to abandon Taiwan after 22 years of diplomatic relations, and grasp China’s hand, only to go back to Taiwan in 2005? And now this.

Speculation gained ground as a grand ceremony was held in Nauru’s capital Yaren on Monday, to reopen the Chinese embassy. Present was Nauru’s foreign trade minister Lionel Aingimea and Luo Zhaohui, who was China’s ambassador to India from 2016-19. He currently heads the China International Development Cooperation Agency.

Nauru’s diplomatic shift deepens Australia’s growing concern over China’s penetration of its neighbourhood. If money is the reason, it aligns with a trend that has seen three of six Pacific island states dump Taiwan for China. Kiribati and the Solomon islands had done this in 2019.

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Access to easily available Chinese money could draw these countries into debt, potentially impacting their decision making and economic independence and enabling Beijing to enlarge its political influence.

China does not appear to be resting on its laurels. A screenshot on X showed an email from China’s broadcaster CGTN, offering $450 to a senior member of the Tuvalu Broadcasting Corporation to write an opinion piece. This was apparently intended to influence the elections and defeat senior leaders backing Taiwan. They did lose.