Weather-endangered Tuvalu conducts vote observed by Taiwan, China

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Tuvalu National Elections Held Amid Global Interest

A significant national election got underway on Friday in the tiny Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, which has drawn attention from global powers – China, Taiwan, the US, and Australia. The election is being observed due to the increasing struggle for influence in the Pacific region that this small nation has suddenly found itself in. This news comes from the source at Reader Wall.

Tuvalu: A Strong Advocate for Climate Change

Tuvalu has been actively speaking out on the global stage about the drastic effects of climate change. The island-nation, home to only 11,200 inhabitants scattered across nine islands, is becoming increasingly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Research indicates that their capital, Funafuti, may be submerged by tidal waters by mid-century. According to the United Nations Development Programme, most of Tuvalu is expected to be flooded by high tides by 2100. As a result, the Programme is collaborating with Tuvalu to strengthen its coastline.

Global Powers Show Interest in Tuvalu

Global powers have begun to take notice of Tuvalu due to the mounting tension between China and the United States in the Pacific. For instance, Washington recently vowed to link Tuvalu’s isolated population to the global telecommunications network via undersea cable for the first time. This development only reinforces the heightened interest in this small nation.

Tuvalu: Diplomatic Alliances

Tuvalu is one of the few Pacific allies still affiliated with Taiwan, especially after Nauru shifted its allegiance from Taiwan to Beijing this month. Beijing promised more developmental aid as part of the strategic alliance, which has led to some speculation that China is trying to sway the election in Tuvalu and gather more diplomatic allies.

However, Taiwan has been a diplomatic partner of Tuvalu since 1979 and has categorically rejected China’s sovereignty claim. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin has urged countries maintaining diplomatic relations with Taiwan to follow the trend of the times and abide by the one-China principle as fast as possible. Interestingly, all the candidates for Tuvalu’s leadership strongly espouse climate change action. However, their perspectives on alliances with Taiwan vary.

Post-Election Prospects

Seve Paeniu, Tuvalu’s Finance Minister, and one of the only two candidates for the Nukulaelae island electorate secure a seat in the new parliament. He indicated that Taiwan ties would be reviewed in the aftermath of the election. He firmly believes that the new government should choose a partner, Taiwan or China, based on Tuvalu’s development needs. Prime Minister Kausea Natano asserts his support for Taiwan, while former Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga and ex-Foreign Minister Simon Kofe have shown their support in the past.

Election and Future Path

After the votes are counted, the newly elected lawmakers are transported from their respective islands to the capital, Funafuti – a journey that could take up to 27 hours. There are no political parties, and two lawmakers will be chosen by voters in each of eight island electorates. Once they reach Funafuti, they elect the Prime Minister.

Tuvalu in International News

In 2021, Former Foreign Minister Simon Kofe hit worldwide headlines by delivering a United Nations climate change summit speech while standing knee-deep in water, thereby illustrating the impending disaster waiting to befall this low-lying nation. Furthermore, Tuvalu engaged in an agreement on important security and migration issues with Australia in November 2021. The agreement enables Canberra to assess security interactions. However, the deal faced opposition from Mr. Sopoaga, while Mr. Kofe proposed revising some aspects.


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