Foreign relations of Tonga

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Tonga, by a modification of its treaty of friendship with the United Kingdom in July 1970, is responsible for its own external affairs. It maintains cordial relations with most countries and has close relations with its Pacific neighbours and the United Kingdom. In 1998, it recognized the People's Republic of China and broke relations with Taiwan. [1]

Contents

Regional relations

Tonga maintains strong regional ties in the Pacific. It is a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum, the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Tonga endorsed the Treaty of Rarotonga (the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty) in 1995. [2] [ permanent dead link ]

Tonga is, however, notably not one of the eight signatories of the Nauru Agreement Concerning Cooperation in the Management of Fisheries of Common Interest which collectively controls 25–30% of the world's tuna supply and approximately 60% of the western and central Pacific tuna supply. [3]

Since November 2011, Tonga was one of the eight founding members of Polynesian Leaders Group, a regional grouping intended to cooperate on a variety of issues including culture and language, education, responses to climate change, and trade and investment. [4] [5] [6]

Extra-regional relations

Tonga was admitted to full membership of the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970, upon regaining its independence from British protection.

Since it has always had its own monarch, its position in the Commonwealth was rather unusual.

Tonga is an independent native Commonwealth monarchy like Brunei, Lesotho, Malaysia, and Swaziland.

Tonga was admitted to the United Nations in 1999.

Additionally outside the region, Tonga is a member or participant of the ACP, Asian Development Bank, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the G-77, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the International Development Association, the International Finance Corporation, International Hydrographic Organization, the IMF, the International Maritime Organization, Interpol, the International Olympic Committee, the ITU, the NAM, the UPU, the World Meteorological Organization and the World Trade Organization.

Bilateral relations

CountryFormal Relations BeganNotes
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia See Australia–Tonga relations
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil December 2011
  • Brazil is accredited to Tonga from its embassy in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Tonga does not have an accreditation to Brazil.
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 1984
  • Canada is accredited to Tonga from its High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand. [9]
  • Tonga is accredited to Canada from its Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City. [10]
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 1998See China–Tonga relations

The Kingdom of Tonga and the People's Republic of China (PRC) established official diplomatic relations in 1998. The two countries maintain cordial diplomatic, economic and military relations.

  • China has an embassy in Nukuʻalofa.
  • Tonga has an embassy in Beijing.
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji See Fiji–Tonga relations

These neighbouring countries in the South Pacific have a history of bilateral relations going back several centuries.

Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama received "cheers and thunderous applause" from the Tongan public when he attended a Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Tonga in October 2007; the crowd's "enthusiastic reception" of Fiji's leader was likened to "that accorded to a rock star". [11] Radio Australia noted that he had been "the star of this year's meeting, for the people of Tonga", [12] while TVNZ reported that he had been "given a hero's welcome". [13]

In terms of inter-governmental relations, Tonga has generally avoided pressuring Fiji's "interim government" into holding democratic elections. However, Tongan Prime Minister Dr. Feleti Sevele has urged Bainimarama "to produce a credible roadmap to the election according to the Constitution and law of Fiji". [14]

Flag of Germany.svg  Germany
  • Germany is accredited to Tonga from its embassy in Wellington, New Zealand and maintains an honorary consulate in Nukuʻalofa. [15]
  • Tonga is accredited to Germany from its high commission in London, United Kingdom.
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece 1984
  • Diplomatic relations were established in 1984. [16]
  • Greece is accredited to Tonga from its embassy in Wellington, New Zealand. [16]
  • Tonga does not have an accreditation to Greece.
Flag of India.svg  India See India–Tonga relations
  • India is accredited to Tonga from its high commission in Suva, Fiji.
  • Tonga does not have an accreditation to India.
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 1970
  • Japan has an embassy in Nukuʻalofa.
  • Tonga has an embassy in Tokyo. [17]
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia 2020
  • Tonga and Latvia established diplomatic relations in 2020. On October 28, 2020, Tongan and Latvian Ambassadors to the United Nations signed a joint communiqué formalising the bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction over strengthening of ties between the two countries. [18]
  • Both countries see opportunities for cooperation in tackling climate change, development cooperation, economics, and cooperation in various multilateral formats, especially in the light of the prospective Latvian non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council in 2026–2027. [19]
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 26 September 2008
  • Mexico is accredited to Tonga from its embassy in Wellington, New Zealand. [20]
  • Tonga is accredited to Mexico from its Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City. [21]
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 1970See New Zealand–Tonga relations
  • New Zealand has a high commission in Nukuʻalofa. [22]
  • Tonga has a consulate-general in Auckland. [23]
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 1976See Russia–Tonga relations

The Kingdom of Tonga and the Soviet Union established formal diplomatic relations in 1976. Tonga was the first Pacific Island country to establish relations with the USSR. The USSR was dissolved in 1991 and was succeeded by Russia as the successor state.

On 2 October 2005, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Tonga ST T. Tupou exchanged telegrams offering congratulations on the occasion of 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the two nations. In his heads of foreign ministries of Russia and Tonga expressed confidence in further development of Russian-Tongan relations in the interests of the peoples of both countries and strengthen peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. [24]

  • Russia is accredited to Tonga from its embassy in Canberra, Australia.
  • Tonga does not have an accreditation to Russia.
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa See Samoa–Tonga relations

Both nations are Pacific Islands countries and members of the Commonwealth of Nations and Pacific Islands Forum.

  • Samoa is accredited to Tonga from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Apia.
  • Tonga is accredited to Samoa from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nukuʻalofa.
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea September 1970
  • South Korea is accredited to Tonga from its embassy in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Tonga is accredited to South Korea from its embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain See Spain–Tonga relations
  • Spain is accredited to Tonga from its embassy in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Tonga does not have an accreditation to Spain
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey Jan. 26, 1976 [25] See Tonga–Turkey relations
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 1879; 4 June 1970

Tonga has had its longest formal relations with the United Kingdom, with which it remains on very good terms. The British explorer James Cook led expeditions to Tonga in 1773, 1774 and 1777. This was followed by extensive English missionary activity beginning in 1797. The mass conversion of most Tongans to Christianity – and primarily to Wesleyan Methodism – resulted in strong religious ties to England as the source of most of the missionaries involved. Indeed, it was in part through the assistance of the English missionary Shirley Baker (who baptized him) that George Tupou I established the current Tonga constitutional monarchy in 1875. This served to further strengthen Anglo-Tongan ties, and the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Tonga established formal mutual diplomatic recognition in 1879. [26] While always remaining independent, Tonga became a British protected state under the so-called Treaty of Friendship on 18 May 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs tried to oust the second king. The Treaty of Friendship and protected state status ended only in 1970 under arrangements established during the reign of Tonga's third monarch, Queen Sālote.

Tonga is unique among Pacific island nations in its never having been colonized. Its foreign relations, therefore, have always been as an independent monarchy free of the colonial relationships of its neighbors. (see History of Tonga).

Tonga's earliest foreign relations were rooted in conquest of many of its neighboring islands so that by the 12th century, Tongans, and the Tongan kings, the Tu'i Tonga, were known across the Pacific, from Niue, Samoa to Tikopia they ruled these nations for over 400 years, leading some historians to refer to a "Tongan Empire," although it was more so a network of interacting navigators, chiefs and adventurers. Tonga's dominance of the region was greatly affected following first contact with the Dutch beginning in 1616 on the Northern Tongan islands "Cocos Island" (Tafahi) and "Traitors Island" (Niuatoputapu), and later in 1643 on the main island of Tonga itself. The Dutch did not establish a lasting presence, but Dutch reports led to interest from the British. The British explorer James Cook led expeditions to Tonga in 1773, 1774 and 1777. This was followed by extensive English missionary activity beginning in 1797. The mass conversion of most Tongans to Christianity – and primarily to Wesleyan Methodism – resulted in strong religious ties to England as the source of most of the missionaries involved. Indeed, it was in part through the assistance of the English missionary Shirley Baker (who baptized him) that George Tupou I established the current Tonga constitutional monarchy in 1875. This served to further strengthen Anglo-Tongan ties. While always remaining independent, Tonga became a British protected state under the so-called Treaty of Friendship on 18 May 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs tried to oust the second king. This protected the Tongan monarchy from European or other colonizing powers in return for a special relationship with the United Kingdom.

In the 1950s, Anglo-Tongan relations were strengthened with the visit of each country's monarch to the other nation. In 1953, Tonga's Queen Sālote became the first Tongan monarch to visit Britain when she attended the coronation of Elizabeth II. Soon after, in 1954, the Queen Elizabeth then visited Tonga.

The Treaty of Friendship and protected state status ended only in 1970 under arrangements established during the reign of Tonga's third monarch, Queen Sālote.

As part of cost-cutting measures across the British Foreign Service, the British Government closed the British High Commission in Nukuʻalofa in March 2006, transferring representation of British interests in Tonga to the UK High Commissioner in Fiji. The last resident British High Commissioner was Paul Nessling. [27]

In 2010, Tongan Brigadier General Tau'aika 'Uta'atu, Commander of the Tonga Defence Services, signed an agreement in London committing a minimum of 200 Tongan troops to cooperate with Britain's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. [28]

  • Tonga has a high commission in London.
  • United Kingdom has a high commission in Nukuʻalofa.
Flag of the United States.svg  United States See Tonga–United States relations

The United States and Tonga enjoy close cooperation on a range of international issues. Officers of the American Embassy in Suva, Fiji, are concurrently accredited to Tonga and make periodic visits since the United States has no permanent consular or diplomatic offices in Tonga. Although plans for a US consulate in Tonga were announced in 2008, [29] [30] it has yet to be established. [31] Peace Corps Volunteers teach and provide technical assistance to Tongans. A large number of Tongans reside in the United States, particularly in Utah, California and Hawaii. [32]

Commonwealth of Nations

Tonga has been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations since 4 June 1970.

Tonga was a British protected monarchy from 1900 to 1970, when it became an independent native monarchy within the Commonwealth of Nations, a status shared by Brunei, Lesotho, Malaysia, and Swaziland, which also have their own native monarchs.

Current foreign policy

Tonga's foreign policy as of January 2009 has been described by Matangi Tonga as "Look East" – namely, as establishing closer diplomatic and economic relations with Asia (which actually lies to the north-west of the Pacific kingdom). Tonga retains cordial relations with the United States. Although it remains on good terms with the United Kingdom, the two countries do not maintain particularly close relations, and the United Kingdom closed its High Commission in Tonga in 2006. Tonga's relations with Oceania's regional powers, Australia and New Zealand, are very good.

International disputes

In 1972, Tonga laid claim to, and invaded, the tide-washed, isolated Minerva Reefs, some 480 kilometres southwest of Nuku'olofa, to thwart efforts by a private group, Ocean Life Research Foundation, to establish an independent Republic of Minerva (now the Principality of Minerva) on the reefs and surrounding quays. In November 2005, Fiji laid a complaint with the International Seabed Authority claiming ownership of the reefs. [34]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Fiji–United States relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Fiji and the United States of America

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Fiji–New Zealand relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Fiji and New Zealand

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Fiji–Tonga relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Fiji and the Kingdom of Tonga

Fiji–Tonga relations are foreign relations between Fiji and Tonga. These neighbouring countries in the South Pacific have a history of bilateral relations going back several centuries.

Japan–Tonga relations Diplomatic relations between Japan and the Kingdom of Tonga

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India–Tonga relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of India and the Kingdom of Tonga

India–Tonga relations refers to the international relations that exist between India and Tonga. The High Commission of India in Suva, Fiji is concurrently accredited to Tonga.

New Zealand–Tonga relations

New Zealand–Tonga relations refers to the diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the Kingdom of Tonga. Both nations are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, Pacific Islands Forum and the United Nations.

References

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