Tuvalu’s foreign minister said on Thursday the South Pacific nation had rejected offers from Chinese companies to build artificial islands to help it cope with rising sea levels, an approach viewed as undermining Taiwan’s influence in the region.
Tuvalu foreign minister Simon Kofe instead explicitly expressed support for Taiwan and said his country was working to set up a group uniting Taiwan’s remaining four allies in the Pacific.
“Tuvalu and Taiwan diplomatic ties are strongest they’ve ever been,” Kofe said.
“We believe in the power of grouping together and collaborating,” he added, referring to the Marshall Islands, Palau and Nauru as well as Tuvalu. “Together with our partners, we will be able to counter the influence from mainland China.”
The show of support provides some relief for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who is seeking a re-election in January and has seen seven countries drop Taiwan as a diplomatic ally since she took office in 2016.