Second island nation in a week denounces diplomatic ties with Taiwan
Kiribati has become the second nation in a week to drop Taiwan as a diplomatic ally and move towards Beijing, Taipei's foreign ministry announced Friday.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu announced the change at a press conference, saying that in response Taipei would cut diplomatic ties with Kiribati.
It comes just four days after the Solomon Islands' government voted unanimously to recognise mainland China over Taiwan, a move which was condemned in Taipei and welcomed in Beijing.
The loss of the Solomon Islands and Kiribati has left Taiwan with just 15 diplomatic allies.
Wu told reporters that Taiwan regretted and "strongly condemns" Kiribati's decision, which he added disregarded years of "assistance and friendship" between the two governments.
Beijing has yet to comment on the decision but when the Solomon Islands moved to begin diplomatic ties with Beijing earlier in the week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying described it as "an irresistible trend of the times."
The number of countries who have diplomatic relations with Taiwan - officially the Republic of China - rather than the mainland Chinese government has shrunk rapidly since 2016.
Last year alone, El Salvador, Burkina Faso and the Dominican Republic all announced they would no longer recognise Taipei.
The rapid loss of diplomatic allies comes at a bad time for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen who is facing an uphill battle for re-election in January 2020.
In a statement this week after the Solomon Islands severed ties, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, the top body in charge of relations with Beijing, accused China of luring away diplomatic allies in a bid to influence the result of the election.
"Beijing authorities have been attempting to influence elections in Taiwan," the statement said.
"This has gradually undermined peace over the Taiwan Strait through infringing Taiwan's rights and interests,."
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019