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New Tuvalu government reaffirms Taiwan ties in government document

02/28/2024 03:15 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) Tuvalu's new government on Wednesday reaffirmed that it will continue to formally recognize the Republic of China (Taiwan) instead of switching its allegiance to China following a national election last month.

"The new government wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the long-term and lasting special relationship between Tuvalu and the Republic of China, Taiwan," a government document posted by parliamentarian Simon Kofe on X (formerly Twitter) said.

The statement reaffirming Tuvalu-Taiwan ties is cited as one of the new government's top 20 priorities on its statement of priorities, according to Kofe.

"Of particular interest to our partners in the region is the reaffirmation of our relations with Taiwan and our position on the Falepili Treaty with Australia," Kofe said in his Tweet.

Kofe, who won reelection in the Jan. 26 election, was a former foreign minister known for his Taiwan-friendly stance. He most recently visited Taiwan in May 2023.

He was named as transportation minister in the new government by Feleti Teo, Tuvalu's new prime minister, earlier Wednesday when Teo's Cabinet lineup was revealed.

Teo unseated his brother and former Parliament Speaker Samuelu Teo in Tuvalu's elections on Jan. 26.

The naming of a new prime minister was supposed to occur soon after the general election, but stormy weather and rough seas kept several lawmakers from traveling by boat from Tuvalu's outer islands to the capital Funafuti to pick a new leader until late last week.

After his appointment, Teo met with Taiwan's Ambassador to Tuvalu Andrew Lin (林東亨) during which he affirmed that "the diplomatic alliance between Taiwan and Tuvalu is solid and that all sectors of Tuvalu share a long-standing consensus on supporting official bilateral relations," according to a Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) statement.

"The two governments will continue to jointly promote substantive cooperation projects aimed at enhancing the welfare of both their peoples," Teo was quoted as saying in the statement.

Meanwhile, MOFA spokesman Jeff Liu (劉永健) said on Tuesday that the government is expected to officially invite Teo to attend President-elect Lai Ching-te's (賴清德) inauguration ceremony on May 20.

There were concerns before Teo was appointed on Monday that Taiwan's ties with Tuvalu could be in jeopardy.

Outgoing Tuvaluan Finance Minister Seve Paeniu, who was reelected on Jan. 26 and a contender for the country's leadership, told Reuters last month that Tuvalu's ties with Taiwan "need to be debated and reviewed in the new parliament."

Paeniu said Tuvalu's people wanted more financial support from the international community to help the island nation address climate change and other issues.

The issue was sensitive in Taiwan, coming shortly after Taiwan lost another Pacific ally, Nauru, to Beijing on Jan. 15, leaving only 12 countries around the world that formally recognize the Republic of China.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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