Tuvalu, Leader of the Free World
Tuvalu has rejected offers from China to build artificial islands to prevent their nation from sinking altogether.
The island is under significant pressure to battle rising sea-levels, as a mere 20-centimetre increase in sea levels (predicted to take place within 100 years) would render Tuvalu inhabitable.
What’s more, with 10% of Tuvalu’s GDP coming from the “.TV” domain name, and an average of 0.98 tourist visits per day, the Tuvaluan economy could use the $400m investment form China as it accounts for 14 years of their GDP.
According to Tuvalu’s foreign minister, they denied the funds because of debt that would come with it, and the risk of a Chinese military basis being built on the artificial islands. And that’s before we even talk about the inevitable banning of Winnie the Pooh…
But, banned Disney characters, social point keeping systems and high debt seem a small price to pay for the privilege of not drowning. The main reason is Tuvalu’s stance regarding Taiwan.
Tuvalu belongs to the elite club of countries that recognize Taiwan, along with the Vatican (the only European state), a handful of Micronesian islands and a few other nations that you’ve probably only heard about in a pub quiz. Accepting China’s millions would mean Tuvalu is pressured to give up its recognition of Taiwan.
The tiny island nation is not alone in being offered a deal with the devil. After Kiribati was promised aeroplanes and the Solomon islands development funds from the Chinese government, they quickly gave up their support for Taiwan. The Dominican Republic too sided with Beijing after being offered aid to address poverty.
But the Tuvaluan PM remains optimistic, saying that “together, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru and Tuvalu [can] counter the influence from mainland China.”
While the idea of a few castaway islands countering a world power with a few snorkels and a domain name is laughable, they make a strong statement doing so. Developed countries are cow-towing to China’s foreign policies because they want to continue getting cheap iPhones despite organ harvesting and concentration camps, whereas Tuvalu stands strong with the risk of drowning in sight.
That said, the chances of their strategy working out are slim. If China builds the military basis anyway, the Islands shouldn’t count on much support from the EU (who will likely be voting on what action to take for the next decade), nor from the US which is following “no Trump tower, no aid” doctrine these days.
But, sadly even if China doesn’t do anything at all, all they need to do is wait until Tuvalu is the new Atlantis. With brave countries like these dying out, China will soon be faced without any opposition at all.