Up to two Taiwan allies may switch to China before 2020 elections

Intelligence chief unwilling to name potential defectors among Taiwan’s 15 official allies, after loss of Solomon Islands and Kiribati last month

NSB chief Chiu Kuo-cheng speaking at the Legislative Yuan Wednesday October 2.

NSB chief Chiu Kuo-cheng speaking at the Legislative Yuan Wednesday October 2. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The chief of Taiwan’s top intelligence agency confirmed Wednesday (Oct. 2) that China would try to lure up to two of the island’s diplomatic allies away before the January 2020 elections.

The National Security Council (NSC) presented a report to that effect to government leaders on Sept. 23, but on Wednesday, the head of the National Security Bureau (NSB), Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正), told legislators he could confirm the analysis.

China’s aim was to influence the election campaign and drive voters away from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). Last month, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati switched to Beijing within the space of a week, cutting the total number of Taiwan’s official allies to 15.

Chiu said the projection that a further one or two allies would leave was based on research and analysis by the NSB and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Liberty Times reported. Most of Taiwan’s remaining allies are situated either in the Pacific, the Caribbean or Central America, but Chiu refused to answer questions from lawmakers about where the next changes might occur.

Media reports have named Haiti as a possibility, with continual internal strife and the presence of peacekeeping troops from China as important factors. Chiu said the NSB was monitoring all potential scenarios, including Beijing taking even tougher measures targeting Taiwan, such as limiting flights by the island’s airlines, cutting off financial ties or abrogating the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).