China and the Pacific island nation of Kiribati have signed a joint communique on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

The communique was signed by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Kiribati's President and Foreign Minister Taneti Maamau in New York on Friday, the ministry said.

(Wang Yi (R) and Taneti Maamau (L))

The Pacific island country said earlier this week that it has severed ties with Taiwan. Kiribati established diplomatic relations with Beijing in 1980, but cut them off in 2003 to enter ties with Taipei.

Last week, China also established diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, apparently aiming to bolster its influence in the region.

China has stepped up its efforts to isolate Taiwan internationally since President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power in May 2016.

Kiribati is the seventh nation to sever ties with Taipei and establish them with Beijing during her administration.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing has since then endeavored to diplomatically isolate Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province awaiting reunification.

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