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Australia backs Nauru recognising China over Taiwan

Dominic Giannini -

Australia has backed Nauru's decision to move to a one-China policy which ended its recognition of Taiwan as a separate country.

Pacific Minister Pat Conroy says Canberra wasn't caught off-guard by the announcement but he refused to go into further detail about when the government got the heads up.

"I can be very clear that we were aware in advance of the announcement," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

"We respect their decision."

Pat Conroy says Australia knew in advance about Nauru's decision to move to a one-China policy. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

The prior warning showed the Albanese government's increased engagement with Pacific nations was bearing fruit, he said.

Canberra supported the sovereign decision made by the Nauru government, he added, pointing to Australia maintaining strong relationships with all Pacific Island Forum members, including three that recognise Taiwan.

Thirteen members, including Australia, recognise the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government.

The minister's comments came after Australia was caught off-guard when the Solomon Islands entered a policing agreement with China.

It was in the best interest of citizens to recognise Beijing over Taiwan, the Nauru government said in a statement announcing the diplomatic change.

"This change is in no way intended to affect our existing warm relationships with other countries," the statement said.

"Our government remains focused on moving Nauru forward and this policy change is a significant first step in moving forward with Nauru's development."

Beijing welcomed Nauru's decision, reiterating Taiwan was an "inalienable part of China's territory".

"The Nauru government's decision of re-establishing diplomatic ties with China once again shows that the one-China principle is where global opinion trends and where the arc of history bends," foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said.

"China stands ready to work with Nauru to open new chapters of our bilateral relations on the basis of the one-China principle."

The announcement came just after Taiwanese voters elected the pro-democracy party for a historic third term.

Taipei's representative in Australia Douglas Hsu branded it confirmation that people wanted democracy over authoritarianism.

Reintegrating Taiwan by force remains an option, Beijing says, in the face of warnings from democratic nations including Australia and the US against a unilateral change to the status quo.

Dominic Giannini - AAP

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