The Solomon Islands cabinet has voted to switch allegiance from Taiwan to China today, just hours after Taiwanese government officials arrived at the island. According to Central News Agency, 27 out of 33 cabinet members voted to cut ties with Taiwan, six abstained from voting, and none opposed.

The island's decision came shortly after Taiwan's deputy foreign minister Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) landed in Honiara. Upon Hsu's arrival, he told reporters that the relations between the Solomon Islands and Taiwan remain "stable and firm."

The Solomon Islands was Taiwan's biggest ally in the South Pacific, with formal ties established in 1983. Its switch of allegiance leaves Taiwan with only 16 official diplomatic allies.

In response to the Solomon Islands's cabinet decision, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced it will stop all partnerships with the island immediately. Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) slammed Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare for making a hasty diplomatic decision based on a biased report submitted by a government-appointed task force.

"The Chinese government has once again made empty promises through its dollar diplomacy, bribing a small number of Soloman Islands officials and pressuring their government to cut ties from us before the Chinese National Day [on October 1]," Wu said.

Wu further condemned Beijing for pushing the Solomon Islands to cut ties before Taiwan's 2020 presidential election in an attempt to influence voters.

At a later press conference, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) reiterated that Taiwan will not accept China's dollar diplomacy and will not back down in the face of Chinese pressure. Taiwan might have different political parties with different ideas about cross-strait relations, Tsai said, but “Taiwan’s biggest consensus” is that it will not accept Beijing’s imposition of “one country, two systems.”

"Stripping away Taiwan's diplomatic allies will only stir temporary public discussions but it will not have any benefit to improving cross-strait relations," Tsai said.

In a podcast published last week, Sogavare said, "When it comes to economics and politics, Taiwan is completely useless to us."

If the Solomon Islands establishes diplomatic relations with China, it would become one of China's important strategetic assets in the South Pacific. The United States government has also been paying close attention to the tug-of-war between Taiwan and China, with plans to reopen a U.S. embassy and reestablish its Peace Corps presence in the Solomon Islands.

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TNL Editor: Lea Yang (@thenewslensintl)

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