Taiwan president to visit Palau, Nauru, Marshall islands next week

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during "A Civil Society Dialogue on Securing Religious Freedom in the Indo-Pacific Region" forum in Taipei, Taiwan March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will next week visit the island’s diplomatic allies of Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

The visit comes amid heightened tensions between Taipei and Beijing, which claims self-ruled and proudly democratic Taiwan as its own and has vowed to bring the island under Chinese control, by force if necessary.

Taiwan, which China claims has no right to state-to-state relations, has formal ties with 17 countries, almost all small, less developed nations in Central America and the Pacific, like Belize and Nauru.

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