In this Nov. 24, 2018, photo, ships are docked offshore in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. The Solomon Islands switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, becoming the latest country to leave the dwindling Taiwanese camp.(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Taiwan loses biggest Pacific ally as Solomons embraces China

September 16, 2019 - 11:48 pm

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Taiwan has lost its largest ally in the Pacific after the Solomon Islands on Tuesday confirmed it is switching diplomatic allegiance to China, and observers say other Pacific nations may soon follow.

The switch has geopolitical significance that will be felt as far away as Washington because the Solomon Islands are located directly between Australia and the U.S. and were the site of fierce battles during World War II.

Alex Akwai, a spokesman for Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, says the government's caucus took a poll on Monday with 27 lawmakers voting in favor of switching allegiance to China and another six abstaining. He says the Cabinet then voted unanimously in favor of the change.

Taiwan said it condemned the decision, while China said it welcomed the Solomon Islands.

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