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Taiwan pledges Solomon Islands help in hosting 2023 Pacific Games

2018/05/22 17:30:58

Andrew Lee (李憲章)

Taipei, May 22 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday pledged assistance to the Solomon Islands to help it prepare to host the 2023 Pacific Games, but did not say whether Taiwan will provide the financial support its Pacific ally has asked for.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday and asked Tsai for financial assistance for the multi-sport event his country is hosting for South Pacific countries in 2023, according to the Presidential Office.

Addressing the media Tuesday, MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) expressed respect for Houenipwela's request a day earlier, but sidestepped the question when asked directly by reporters whether Taiwan would agree to the request.

Lee instead focused on the assistance Taiwan has already provided last year in the run-up to the 2023 Pacific Games, including inspections of competition venues, involvement in planning and design, and recommending potential companies that could bid in tenders related to the event.

He said Taiwan will continue to help the Solomon Islands host a successful 2023 Pacific Games under the principle of win-win, steadfast diplomacy.

The spokesman stressed that Taiwan should do its part, as a good friend of the Solomon Islands, to help with an important project like the Pacific Games.

MOFA as well as other government agencies and officials have repeated that they will not engage in checkbook diplomacy in order to retain or gain new diplomatic allies.

Checkbook diplomacy describes past efforts by Taiwan and China to vie for allies by throwing substantial amounts of financial aid in their direction.

The competition underwent a truce of sorts from 2008 to 2016 under the previous Kuomintang administration, but China has poached three of Taiwan's allies with the help of financial incentives since the current Democratic Progressive Party administration took power in May 2016.

The three allies to shift allegiance to Beijing during that time were Sao Tome and Principe, in December 2016, Panama, in June 2017, and the Dominican Republic, at the beginning of this month.

(By Kuan-lin Liu and Ku Chuan)