Taiwan and Tuvalu Sign Agreements to Strengthen Technical, Diplomatic Cooperation

Taiwan and Tuvalu Sign Agreements to Strengthen Technical, Diplomatic Cooperation
(L-R) Jarden Kephas, Nauru’s ambassador to Taiwan; Limasene Teatu, Tuvalu's ambassador to Taiwan; Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu; AIT Director W. Brent Christensen; Sandra Oudkirk, State Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Island; and Neijon Rema Edwards, the Marshall Islands’ ambassador to Taiwan, take a group photo at the Pacific Islands Dialogue in Taipei, Taiwan, on Oct. 7, 2019. (Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Naveen Athrappully
Taiwan and the Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu signed cooperation agreements on Friday, with deals focusing on the training of diplomatic personnel, technical cooperation, and mutual criminal justice.

The three agreements were signed by the two nations on June 2. The Agreement on Diplomatic Personnel Training and Exchange Cooperation was signed by Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Tuvalu Minister of Justice, Communication, and Foreign Affairs, Simon Kofe. It is aimed at creating a mechanism for training and exchanging diplomatic personnel between the two nations. The Technical Cooperation Agreement seeks to expand collaboration in fields like information and communication technology, digital transformation, and climate change.

An agreement on mutual criminal justice was also signed between the two nations, with Kofe and Taiwan Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-Hsiang being the signatories.

The agreement pledges the two nations to combat organized crime, drug-related crimes, money laundering, and cross-border telecommunications. It establishes a comprehensive mutual legal assistance mechanism between the two as well.

Following the signing ceremony, Wu hosted a banquet for Kofe during which he thanked Tuvalu for strongly supporting Taiwan during last year’s United Nations Ocean Conference.

At the time, China had attempted to prevent three delegates from Taiwan from attending the U.N. conference. These delegates came along with Tuvalu’s delegation. Kofe refused to bow to Chinese pressure and instead withdrew from the conference.

“At tonight’s splendid #Taipei Guest House banquet, Minister Wu & the #Tuvalu delegation celebrated not only 44 years of diplomatic ties but also @Simon Kofe’s birthday! #Taiwan’s delighted to call the beautiful country & its principled foreign minister our friends!” the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a June 2 tweet.

Chinese Influence, Taiwan Independence

Tuvalu is one of the only 12 countries in the world that recognizes Taiwan as a sovereign state. The other nations are Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Vatican City.
China has attempted to pull some of these nations to its side in a bid to isolate Taiwan, an island that Beijing insists is its territory.

Back in November 2019, Tuvalu revealed that Chinese companies had approached them, offering aid to build artificial islands to deal with rising sea levels. However, Tuvalu rejected the offer as it was concerned the companies were backed by the Chinese regime.

“It’s a ‘no’ from us,” Kofe said. “We are hearing a lot of information about debt, China buying our islands and looking at setting up military bases in our part of the world. Those are things that are concerning to us.”

“We hope those are lessons for other countries to be careful and be conscious of those negative impacts. … It’s not good for our Pacific fellow brothers and sisters.”

In the United States, a group of congressional lawmakers led by Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Wis.) introduced legislation in January seeking to resume formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It asks the Biden administration to support Taipei’s membership in international organizations.

“It’s time to change the status quo and recognize the reality denied by the United States government for decades: Taiwan is an independent Nation,” Tiffany said in a statement shared with The Epoch Times.

“As our long-standing and valued partner, correctly acknowledging their independence from communist China is long overdue.”