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International relations

Beijing 'bought off' Solomon Islands, Taiwan minister says

Pacific island nation breaks ties with Taipei and recognizes Beijing

Taiwan's foreign minister, Joseph Wu, told reporters in Taipei late on Monday that it would immediately close down its embassy in the Solomon Islands and recall all of its diplomats.(Photo by Kensaku Ihara)

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's circle of diplomatic relations has narrowed further with the Solomon Islands deciding to recognize Beijing as the government of China.

Joseph Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister, announced the country's decision at a news conference Monday. Wu accused Beijing of buying off Solomon Islands lawmakers.

This marks the sixth nation to break formal relations with Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, and leaves only 16 countries that grant the island diplomatic recognition.

The Solomon Islands, whose diplomatic ties with Taiwan date to 1983, will formally switch its recognition to Beijing soon.

The change comes as the independence-leaning Tsai faces a presidential election in January.

Earlier last week, a Chinese mainland spokesperson praised the Solomon Islands' anticipated diplomatic break from Taiwan, saying "the one-China principle is a norm of international relations and universal consensus of the international society."

"Conforming to this trend of the times is the choice of most countries," Ma Xiaoguang of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office told reporters, adding that China currently maintains diplomatic relations with 178 countries, and this trend will further develop.

Mainland China has sought to raise its profile among Pacific Island nations, one of the last clusters of Taiwanese diplomatic support. Beijing also has peeled away Taiwan's allies in Africa and the Caribbean.

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