Solomon Islands officials' visit to China not linked to ties: MOFA - Focus Taiwan

Solomon Islands officials' visit to China not linked to ties: MOFA

Taipei, June 18 (CNA) A Solomon Islands government delegation that recently visited China was there only to study how the timber trade works in China, and Taiwan's relations with the country remain strong and stable, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

Several media outlets have recently reported that a senior delegation led by the Solomon Islands' forestry minister and mines and energy minister visited China last week.

The visit came at a time when the Solomon Islands is considering whether to maintain its formal diplomatic recognition of Taiwan or switch to ties with China.

MOFA deputy spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) downplayed the Solomon Islands' officials recent trip to China, saying it was meant to conduct a survey of the timber market in China, the Pacific ally's main export market.

Timber is also the country's main export product.

She noted that the Solomon Islands government made the trip public and insisted that diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Pacific ally remain strong and stable.

Taiwan's Pacific ally, however, is engaged in a 100-day assessment of its priorities, and Radio New Zealand reported Monday that a bipartisan task force will conduct a review of ties with Taiwan.

It cited Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare as saying he was confident the task force will provide in-depth analysis to help develop an approach for the government to enhance its diplomatic engagements and leverage opportunities for the country.

Earlier this month on June 5, Sogavare told Australian national broadcaster ABC: "We are under a lot of pressure to rethink this relationship."

"We have this relationship [with Taiwan] premised on some important fundamental principles with the United Nations, and it would be sad to see us moving away."

Ou has said, however, that most members of the Solomon Islands' 50-seat parliament support their country's diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

(By Joseph Yeh)


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