Leader of Tuvalu Cites Democracy and Loyalty for Remaining in Taiwan

Tuvalu’s new prime minister declared on Friday that his country shares democratic ideals with Taiwan and that his administration will continue to maintain diplomatic connections with Taipei, barring out a move to Beijing. Tuvalu is an island nation in the Pacific. This is Prime Minister Feleti Teo’s first interview with foreign media since his government took office earlier this week. He spoke with The Associated Press via Zoom. We have only democratic connections with Taiwan, and they have shown us great loyalty,” Teo stated.

 

Sworn in on Wednesday, the 61-year-old first-time lawmaker and his eight Cabinet members took office one month after the strategically important nation of 11,500 inhabitants, located midway between Australia and Hawaii, held general elections one month prior. Among the topics of discussion throughout the election campaign was whether Tuvalu should become a Beijing-affiliated nation instead of Taiwan. A candidate for office suggested doing away with a treaty that, if passed, would grant Australia the right of veto authority over any security-related arrangement Tuvalu wishes to enter into with any other nation, including China. With regard to the autonomous Taiwan, the new administration declared that it will keep diplomatic relations open. Since a civil conflict separated Taiwan in 1949, China has claimed the island.

 

The speaker made reference to the “One China” principle, which asserts China’s sovereignty over the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, and its counter-policy. “We don’t see any reason why we need to invest in time to discuss and engage in the two-China discussion,” he said. Reviewed relations between Tuvalu and Taiwan and Beijing were points of contention for Seve Paeniu, the former finance minister and a leading candidate in the election. Teo did not include Paeniu in his Cabinet. Since there are no political parties in Tuvalu’s 16-member parliament, a prime minister needs the backing of at least 8 independent members in order to command a majority.

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