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Kiribati President reaffirms diplomatic ties with Taiwan

Chinese state-owned companies investing in Kiribati projects led to rumors that Kiribati would pursue closer relations with Beijing

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Kiribati President Taneti Maamau (UN Image)

Kiribati President Taneti Maamau (UN Image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – As China’s campaign of increasing international pressure on Taiwan’s allies continues, many have speculated that small states in the South Pacific may be easy targets for Beijing’s dollar diplomacy.

On Nov. 21, Kiribati President Taneti Maamau sought to quash rumors that the country might be wavering in its support of Taiwan, and establish relations with China.

There have been news reports circulating in recent weeks that the government might decide to begin courting the Chinese government. These reports were mostly in reference to joint-venture project established by Kiribati and Chinese state owned-companies, such as Kiribati Fish Ltd. and Ocean Link Ltd., reports Radio New Zealand.

When asked by Taberannang Timeon, an MP in Kiribati, President Maamau responded that there was no truth to such rumors. He remarked that the joint venture projects were established by the previous administration.

Radio Kiribati recently spoke with MP Timeon who expressed concern over state-owned Chinese companies establishing themselves in Kiribati.

Addressing those concerns, President Maamau said they are unfounded, and that Kiribati intends to maintain its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, reports Radio New Zealand.

Recently Kiribati, along with other allies, voiced support for Taiwan be granted UN Membership. Kiribati President Taneti Maamau also attended the presidential inauguration of Tsai Ing-wen in May 2016.