Threatened by climate China and Taiwan closely monitor Tuvalu’s election

In a struggle for dominance in the area, China, Taiwan, the United States, and its ally Australia are all keeping a close eye on the national election in the tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, which got underway on Friday. With 11,200 people living on nine islands, Tuvalu has advocated at international conferences for more action to assist low-lying nations in addressing climate change. This is because research indicates that Tuvalu’s capital, Funafuti, could be submerged by sea level by 2050. The United Nations Development Programme, which is assisting Tuvalu to strengthen its coastline, projects that by 2100, high tides will have inundated the majority of the island nation.

 

China and the United States are vying for power in the Pacific, and Washington recently promised to connect Tuvalu’s remote population to international telecommunications for the first time by underwater cable. Taiwan’s three surviving Pacific allies are Tuvalu and Beijing, after Nauru severed relations this month and shifted its allegiance to Beijing, which promised greater development assistance. Taiwan declared on Thursday that China was attempting to “seize our diplomatic allies” by meddling in the election in Tuvalu. A request for comment was not immediately answered by China’s foreign ministry.

 

China considers Taiwan, which is democratically run, to be its own territory and not eligible for diplomatic relations. Taiwan denies China’s assertion of its sovereignty. While all of the candidates running for Tuvalu’s presidency have supported global action against climate change, their strategies for maintaining diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a friend since 1979, differ. Seve Paeniu, the Finance Minister of Tuvalu, told Reuters that he anticipates Taiwan relations to be examined following the election. Paeniu is one of only two candidates to win a seat in the new parliament from the Nukulaelae island electorate.

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