DHARAMSALA, 21 Nov: Tuvalu, a small Oceania country has turned down China’s proposal to build artificial islands to fight with its rising sea levels; a disguised attempt to gain influence in the country.
Tuvalu’s foreign minister has said on Thursday that his country received offers from Chinese firms to build artificial islands to help it cope with rising sea levels, an approach designed to undermine Taiwan’s influence in the region, the Reuters reported.
The development came at a time when many of Taiwan’s allies started swearing allegiance to Beijing over the latter’s dollar diplomacy.
After turning down China’s advances, Simon Kofe, the Minister from the tiny nation composed of nine scattered small coral islands in the Pacific has further reaffirmed his country’s support for Taiwan.
“Tuvalu and Taiwan diplomatic ties are strongest they’ve ever been,” Kofe was quoted as saying in the report.
Additionally, the minister has disclosed his country’s ongoing efforts in setting up a group uniting Taiwan’s remaining allies in the Pacific which includes the Marshall Islands, Palau and Nauru.
“We believe in the power of grouping together and collaborating. Together with our partners, we will be able to counter the influence from mainland China.”
While China refuses to have diplomatic relations with any country that recognises Taiwan, Beijing’s attempt to expand its influence in the Pacific has alarmed the United States and its allies.
The Solomon Islands became the sixth alliance of Taiwan to switch allegiance to Beijing since Tsai Ing-wen became president of Taiwan in 2016 after it voted to end its ties with Taiwan in September earlier this year. Days later, Kiribati, another island from the region followed suit.
As Taiwan’s 36-year alliance with the Solomon Islands ended, the Taiwanese President resolutely stated that Taiwan would not compete with Beijing in dollar diplomacy that she described ‘as a brazen challenge and detriment to the international order’.
As China stands accused of dollar diplomacy, Taiwan now has formal relations with only 15 countries, many of them small, less-developed nations in Central America and the Pacific, including Belize and Nauru.
Rising seas are on the verge of swallowing two of the nine tiny islands that collectively form the nation while the encroaching waves haunt the locals that researchers often credit to climate change effects.
Tuvalu was part of Gilbert and Ellice Islands, a chain of sixteen atolls and coral islands in the western Pacific Ocean which were a British protectorate from 1892 and colony from 1916 until 1 January 1976, when the islands were divided into two colonies following which Tuvalu became an independent nation in 1978.
On 5 September 2000, Tuvalu became the 189th member of the United Nations.