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Taiwan monitoring visit by Solomon Islands officials to Beijing

2018/06/16 22:25:16

Andrew Lee (李憲章, CNA file photo)

Taipei, June 16 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is closely monitoring what it said is a "private" visit by a group of Solomon Islands government officials and parliamentarians to Beijing, a ministry spokesman said Saturday.

Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party wrote on Facebook that a group of government officials and lawmakers from the Solomon Islands are currently in Beijing seeking China's help to explore the country's resources.

The Solomon Islands is one of only 18 diplomatic allies of Taiwan, and a meeting by representatives from the Pacific country with China could be worrying, especially after Taiwan has lost two allies in less than two months to Beijing's lure of financial assistance.

MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said, however, that the visit was not authorized by the Solomon Islands Cabinet, and the officials were taking the trip in their capacity as individuals.

"The Solomon Islands Cabinet did not authorize this visit. It is just a personal one," Lee said, citing a report from the Republic of China (Taiwan) Embassy in Honiara.

It will not affect the relations between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, he said, noting that every cooperation project existing between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands is being carried out smoothly, Lee said.

He admitted, though, that the visit has shown negative signs that the government needs to take seriously.

It comes shortly after Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela concluded a six-day official visit to Taiwan on May 25, during which he met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Taiwan agreed to help the Pacific ally host the 2023 Pacific Games.

Taiwan would not confirm, however, how much if any, financial assistance it offered to help stage the Games.

(By Elaine Hou and Romulo Huang)
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