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Government to reallocate Solomons, Kiribati funds to Pacific allies

2019/09/22 17:11:20

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is scheduled to appropriate funding originally allocated to the Solomon Islands and Kiribati and disperse it to Taiwan's remaining four Pacific allies after the two island-states decided to end diplomatic ties earlier this week, according to a diplomatic source.

Taiwan cut diplomatic ties with the Solomon Islands and Kiribati on Monday and Friday, respectively, after the two countries decided to establish formal relations with China.

The severing of ties with the two Pacific nations leaves Taiwan with only 15 diplomatic allies worldwide.

A diplomatic source told reporters earlier this week that MOFA had sent its 2020 annual budget proposal to the Legislative Yuan in late August and it awaiting lawmakers' approval.

Asked about the budget originally earmarked for the two countries, the source said the money is expected to be used to solidify ties with Taiwan's remaining Pacific allies. However, the source did not disclose the exact amount to be reallocated.

Taiwan still has four Pacific allies: Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau and the Marshall Islands.

According to the source, Nauru and Tuvalu have just elected new political leaders while Palau and the Marshall Islands will soon hold general elections.

A major election in these allies could mean more uncertainty over their diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, the source said, adding that the ministry needs all the resources it has to solidify ties with the four allies.

Previously commenting on Taiwan's relationships with the countries, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Friday that ties are very close and he sees no reasons to worry for the time being.

Meanwhile, MOFA's 2020 budget proposal stands at NT$ 28.2 billion (US$902 million), a NT$2.2 billion increase compared with a year ago.

According to MOFA, the increase is mainly to be used for foreign aid projects in response to Beijing's increased efforts to lure more of Taiwan's diplomatic allies over the past few years.

The budget will be used to provide assistance to the country's diplomatic allies via bilateral cooperation projects that enhance infrastructures construction, education and training programs, it noted.

Taiwan has lost seven diplomatic allies to China since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party assumed office in May 2016.

Beijing has taken a hardline stance on cross-strait relations since Tsai refused to accept the "1992 consensus," a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then-ruling Kuomintang (KMT) government of Taiwan and the Chinese government.

Under the consensus, both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is only "one China" with each side free to interpret what "China" means, according to the KMT's interpretation. However, Beijing has never publicly recognized the second part of that formula.

(By Elaine Hou and Joseph Yeh)
Enditem/AW