Though staunchly anti-communist, the king encourages the practice of tolerance and political nonalignment with all nations regionally and internationally. This is an astute stance on Tupou IV's part. Because the Kingdom was never colonized like its Pacific neighbors, and thus does not benefit (or suffer) from financial assistance from one donor nation, Tonga must rely on piecemeal assistance from whatever source is available. Over the years, the king has negotiated with government and private parties from the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, India, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Russia, France, Sweden, Libya, the United Kingdom, and China. Several negotiations, particularly with Japanese and German businessmen, have led to long term friendships, business, investments, gifts of aid, or equipment. Where some negotiations have resulted in suspect deals and losses for the Kingdom, others have given the king additional leverage in aid requests. The courting of the Soviets, whether intended or not, attracted concern and notice from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Although this can be a dangerous game politically, the king has been fairly successful to the extent that he has secured funds for many projects without politically alienating any one country.
In 1998, Tonga established diplomatic relations with China, ending a 26-year relation with Taiwan and securing the unopposed endorsement of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, where China has a veto. A UN Security Council committee recommended Tonga's admittance to the UN in July 1999.
In November 1999, Tonga joined seven other Pacific island nations to criticize worldwide lack of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help vulnerable nations adapt to climate changes. The eight nations held a press conference in Bonn, Germany, described damages already being felt in their nations, and said it was time to stop global warming before problems grew worse.
In December 2001, the government approved ratification of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) and the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PCTA). Tonga was the fourth country to sign on these agreements which seek to establish a free trade area between 14 Pacific Island countries and promote economic cooperation. PACER provides for assistance to Tonga from Australia and New Zealand to improve trade.