One third of Taiwan's allies are based in the Pacific, a region rich in natural resources, so maintaining those bonds has become a priority for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's administration. That's especially true as her nation's diplomatic circle has been shrinking as more countries cut off ties in favor of allying with China.
Taipei now has formal relations with only 17 countries because Beijing opposes countries pursuing relations with the East Asian state. China claims Taiwan under a policy known as "One China," so nations seeking rapport with Beijing must cut off diplomatic links with Taipei.
The world's second-largest economy has spent $1.26 billion in aid to Pacific allies since 2011, according to a Tuesday note from the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank. In comparison, Taiwan has spent $224.03 million on its respective partners. On a per-capita basis Taipei appears to have the upper hand.
"Because the China-supporting countries are so much larger than the countries that recognize Taiwan, Taipei actually spends $237 to Beijing's $108, more than twice as much," the report stated.
Six of the 14 Pacific countries — Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu — have relations with Taiwan. But as China increases its engagement in the area, "pundits are wondering who will be the first to jump ship," said the Lowy Institute researchers.
"Given the allure of [Beijing's] generosity, it is tempting to assume that China will soon siphon Taiwan's Pacific friends," they added.