The number of countries that maintain full diplomatic ties with Taiwan has now been reduced to 19, mainly small, developing countries, 10 of them in Latin America.
The Dominican Republic has received millions of dollars in donations for development programs from Taiwan, but the government also started commercial and political contacts with China beginning in the middle of the past decade. A year ago the number of Chinese air patrols off Taiwan's east coast quadrupled, and Beijing under President Xi Jinping has stepped up pressure on the island democracy to "reunify" with the motherland.
The news on the Dominican Republic drew strong and swift condemnation from Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, who told reporters that China had offered financial incentives to attract their support.
"President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic has ignored our long-term partnership, the wishes of the people of the Dominican Republic and the years of development assistance provided by Taiwan, to accept false promises of investment and aid by China", he said at a news briefing after the announcement. "Beijing's attempts at foreign policy have only served to drive a wedge between the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, erode mutual trust and further harm the feelings of the people of Taiwan", he added.
"We have taken the decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, with the conviction that this decision will be extraordinarily positive for the future of our country", read an official statement by the Caribbean country.
"The government will not bow to Beijing's pressure, but will make every effort to safeguard the nation's interests, to defend the sovereignty and dignity of the ROC, and to work with friends in worldwide community to ensure regional peace and stability", it said.
The new diplomatic partners praised the economic significance of the agreement.
Taipei's Mainland Affairs Council slammed the Dominican Republic's move, blaming Beijing for undermining cross-strait ties. "We highly appreciate this".
It said that even without formal diplomatic ties, China was already its second largest supplier of imported products. "However, history and the socioeconomic reality force us now to change direction". The Chinese regime planned to "punish" Taiwan by snatching away the democratic island nation's last remaining diplomatic allies.
A signing ceremony took place at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Dominican counterpart Miguel Vargas. Panama switched its diplomatic relations from Beijing to Taipei past year, and Costa Rica did likewise in 2007.
Beijing and the Holy See severed diplomatic relations in 1951 and remain at odds over the appointment of bishops.