Tuvalu Appoints New Prime Minister, Taiwan Affirms Enduring Relationship

Feleti Teo [Source: New Straits Times]

Taiwan has confirmed that its diplomatic relationship with Tuvalu remains strong and enduring following discussions with the newly appointed Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Feleti Teo. Teo, who previously served as the attorney general, assumed office after a recent election that stirred speculations about a potential shift in Tuvalu’s foreign policy towards Beijing. Tuvalu, a small Pacific island nation with a population of around 11,000, continues to maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taipei, distinguishing itself from the majority that recognize Beijing.

The speculation regarding a possible realignment of Tuvalu’s foreign policy arose during the election campaign when Seve Paeniu, a member of parliament and the then-finance minister, suggested a reassessment of the nation’s diplomatic relations with Taiwan. This led to widespread conjecture about an imminent change, drawing international attention to the election from various global powers.

Andrew Lin, the Taiwanese ambassador to Tuvalu, addressed these rumors by affirming the solidity of the bilateral ties following his discussions with Teo and other government officials. Lin’s engagements, including his attendance at a luncheon with Teo and members of parliament, provided him with firm reassurances regarding the enduring nature of the Taiwan-Tuvalu relationship.


Teo’s unanimous nomination as Prime Minister, a first in Tuvalu’s political history, precedes his upcoming inauguration, as noted by lawmaker Simon Kofe. This political transition occurs against the backdrop of increasing Chinese influence in the Pacific Islands, marked by strategic investments and diplomatic efforts. Beijing’s success in swaying some of Taiwan’s former Pacific allies, such as the Solomon Islands and Kiribati in 2019, and more recently Nauru, underscores the geopolitical significance of Tuvalu’s continued allegiance to Taipei.

The election process in Tuvalu attracted unusual levels of international scrutiny due to the strategic importance of the island nation’s diplomatic stance. Weather-related challenges delayed the assembly of lawmakers, postponing the formation of the new government and the selection of a leader.

As Teo’s administration takes the helm, it faces critical challenges, including navigating international relations, addressing climate change, and contending with the existential threat of rising sea levels. The gradual submersion of two of Tuvalu’s nine coral islands highlights the urgent environmental crisis facing the archipelago, predicted to become uninhabitable within decades.

Ambassador Lin emphasized the close and friendly rapport he shares with Teo, reflecting the personal and diplomatic bonds that underpin the Taiwan-Tuvalu partnership.

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