The tiny Pacific island nation of Fiji has closed down its de-facto embassy in Taipei in yet another blow for Taiwan’s standing in the world.
While Fiji officially recognized the People’s Republic of China in 1975, the nation set up the Fiji Trade and Tourism Representative Office in Taipei 20 years ago to strengthen ties with Taiwan, fostering trade, investment and tourism. That office was unceremoniously shuttered last Wednesday with Fijian officials telling Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the decision had been made in order to “reallocate the country’s resources to better meet its needs.”
According to Taiwan News, some Taiwanese lawmakers have accepted this excuse, arguing that Fiji is a tiny country of less than a million people with limited resources, others have seen it as part of a grand conspiracy masterminded by Beijing to suppress Taiwan’s influence around the globe.
The timing of the move is a bit interesting as it came just before Fijian Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama traveled to Beijing to take part in China’s Belt and Road Forum. People’s Daily reports that during a meeting with Bainimarama on the sidelines of the conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China was willing to expand cooperation with Fiji on “agricultural technology, green development, investment and trade,” while also encouraging more Chinese tourists to visit the island nation.
In response, Bainimarama voiced his country’s support for the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, as well as for the “one-China” policy.
There are now just 21 countries in the world which still have full diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, including six nations in Oceania (Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu) where Taiwan has invested significant resources over the years. Last December, the tiny African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe suddenly severed diplomatic ties with Taipei, before re-establishing relations with Beijing less than a week later. Afterward, Taiwan’s foreign minister said that Taipei refused to engage in “dollar diplomacy” with Beijing.
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