China and the Solomon Islands established diplomatic relations Saturday, days after the Pacific island nation severed ties with Taiwan.

“We look forward to the quick development of bilateral relations between China and the Solomons,” Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said at a ceremony in Beijing alongside his Solomons counterpart Jeremiah Manele.

China Solomon Islands Wang Yi Jeremiah Manele
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (right) shakes hands with Solomon Islands’ Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele following the signing of a joint communique establishing diplomatic relations between China and the Solomon Islands, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on September 21, 2019. Photo: Noel Celis/AFP.

“We welcome this decision by the Solomon Islands and support the country to move forward in the development path it has chosen for itself.”

Solomon’s foreign minister said his country’s decision to switch diplomatic recognition to China—its largest trading partner—was based on “national needs.”

“The development challenges for our country are huge. We need a broader partnership with countries that also includes China,” he said.

The switch is a major coup for Beijing just weeks before it celebrates the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

And it leaves Taiwan more isolated than ever with just 15 states left that recognise it.

Taiwan has been a de facto sovereign nation since the end of a civil war in 1949, but China still views the island as its territory and has vowed to seize it—by force if necessary.

Solomon Islands
Photo: Solomon Islands gov.

Over the decades, as China’s economic and military power have grown, most countries, including the United States and most Western nations, switched recognition to Beijing.

Only a handful still recognise Taiwan, largely in Latin America and the Pacific.

Taipei has accused Beijing of using “dollar diplomacy” to buy off its few remaining allies.

Kiribati, another tiny Pacific island nation announced it has switched diplomatic recognition to China on Friday.

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