One of Taiwan's few remaining diplomatic allies, the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru, has cut ties with the self-governed island in favor of Beijing. The move comes just days after Taiwan voted to elect the ruling Democratic Progressive Party candidate William Lai Ching-te, who the Chinese government calls a "troublemaker" for his pro-independence stance.
The Nauru government on Monday announced it would no longer recognize Taiwan as a separate country, leaving Taiwan with a new low of just 12 diplomatic allies, including Haiti, Paraguay, Guatemala and the Marshall Islands.
Taiwan's deputy foreign minister, Tien Chung-kwang, called it a retaliatory move for holding elections and accused China of using financial aid to buy over the country. "China thinks it can suppress Taiwan with such methods, I think it is wrong. The world has noticed Taiwan's democratic development," Tien said.
China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway province that will be brought under its control by force if needed, unsurprisingly welcomed Nauru's switch, saying it "fully demonstrates once again that the one-China principle is the will of the people and the trend of the times."
Speaking Sunday at a press conference in Cairo, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Taiwan "has never been a country, not in the past and certainly not in the future." He went on to say that "Taiwan independence has never been possible, it has not been possible in the past, and it will never be possible in the future."
Beijing has made its anger clear over Taiwan's elections held on Saturday, which saw Lai win the presidential race. Lai said Taiwan will cope with Chinese pressure "calmly" and continue to cooperate with "like-minded allies, including the U.S.," to maintain peace in the region.
Meanwhile, on Monday, an unofficial delegation from the Biden administration met with the president-elect and also held a meeting with the current leader, Tsai Ing-wen, in a show of American support following the election.
"Taiwan's democracy has set a shining example to the world. We are honored to have the opportunity to meet with you today to reaffirm that the American commitment to Taiwan is rock solid, principled and bipartisan, and that the United States stands with its friends," said former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.
The delegation, including former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, is led by the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto American embassy, which said the U.S. government asked Hadley to travel in their "private capacity."
Taiwan is a major flashpoint in tensions between the U.S. and China, and the election result will test those ties even further.
The United States has never officially denied or recognized China's claim over Taiwan. However, it continues to supply Taiwan with military training and weapons.
When former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in 2022, Beijing launched unprecedented drills and flew missiles over the island.