BEIJING (AFP) – China on Monday (Sept 16) welcomed the Solomon Islands’ decision to nix diplomatic ties with Taiwan, a move that leaves the self-governing island with recognition from just 16 nations.
“The Chinese side highly appreciates the Solomon Islands government’s decision to … sever the so-called ‘diplomatic relations’ with Taiwan authorities,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement shortly before midnight.
“We welcome the Solomon Islands in seizing a historical opportunity,” she added.
The switch is a major coup for Beijing just weeks before it celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Taiwan has been self-ruled since the end of a civil war in 1949, but China still views the island as its territory and has vowed to seize it – by force if necessary.