Kiribati Recognizes China Over Taiwan, Joins Belt And Road Initiative

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China has gained a Pacific Ocean ally and Taiwan lost one as the Republic of Kiribati moved to recognize Beijing over Taipei last month. That has been followed by agreements between Beijing and Tarawa concerning the Belt & Road Initiative. The switch by Kiribati to formally recognise China has come as now great surprise. Because of its location, Kiribati was home to Beijing’s first overseas space tracking system, which played an important role in the Shenzhou manned space missions and the Beidou navigation systems.

Kiribati’s population is just over 110,000, more than half of whom live on Taraa Atoll. The Republic comprises 32 atolls and reef islands and one raised coral island. They have a total land area of 800 square kilometres; dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres of Ocean.

The Kiribati spread straddles both the equator and the 180th meridican, although the International Date Line goes around Kiribati and swings far to the east. Kiribati’s easternmost islands, the southern Line Islands, south of Hawaii, have the most advanced time on Earth: UTC +14 hours.

The Republic of Kiribati

Kiribati became independent from Great Britain in 1979. Kiribati is a member of the Pacific Community (SPC), Commonwealth of Nations, the IMF, and the World Bank, and became a full member of the United Nations in 1999.

Chinese interest in Kiribati is centered on the fishing industry, with about 50% of global Tuna stocks coming from the Pacific. The island offers a base for Chinese fishing fleets, while there are also thought to be oil and gas reserves. However, global warming is proving difficult in the area, as sea levels continue to rise.

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Silk Road Development Weekly is compiled each week by Chris Devonshire-Ellis, Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Eurasia and assists foreign investors into the region. For strategic advisory and business intelligence issues please contact the firm at or visit


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