What Happened: The Pacific island nation of Kiribati has formally cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and established relations with mainland China, the South China Morning Post reported Sept. 20.
Why It Matters: The Chinese government has stepped up its efforts to convince countries in the region to switch their diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing as it approaches the 70th anniversary of the founding of the communist state on Oct. 1 and Taiwan nears its January 2020 elections. Kiribati's decision is mostly symbolic as its economic clout and regional influence remain limited, especially compared to the Solomon Islands, which also abandoned Taipei in favor of Beijing this week.
Background: Kiribati's decision leaves Taiwan with just 15 diplomatic allies, down from 22 when President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. China has been increasing its economic ties with Pacific island nations that still recognize Taiwan, potentially paving the way for other countries to shift their diplomatic relations in the future.