Taiwan deputy foreign minister to visit Tuvalu after government change

Tuvalu prime minister set to visit Taiwan in December amid fears Pacific ally might switch ties to China

New Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano (photo from social media).

New Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano (photo from social media).

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Deputy Foreign Minister Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) will travel to Tuvalu next week and meet with its new prime minister, Kausea Natano, after fears the Pacific island ally might switch ties to China, reports said Thursday (Oct. 31).

Natano unexpectedly won majority support from Tuvalu's 16-member parliament on Sept. 19 to succeed Enele Sopoaga, who was considered a close Taiwan ally. Neighboring Kiribati dumped Taipei and switched to Beijing in September and, like Kiribati, Tuvalu was once known as a single British colony: the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.

Hsu is scheduled to meet acting Governor-General Teniku Talesi, Natano, his deputy Minute Taupo, and Foreign Minister Simon Kofe during his Nov. 5-7 visit, CNA reported.

There are no plans to sign new bilateral agreements during the trip, though Hsu will visit a Taiwanese farm project. Unlike on previous foreign trips, the deputy minister will not meet with officials from the United States, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Prime Minister Natano and the new president of Nauru, Lionel Aingimea, plan to visit Taiwan in December, according to CNA.