No decision yet on diplomatic switch: Solomon Islands ambassador

09/02/2019 11:34 PM

Taipei, Sept. 2 (CNA) The Solomon Islands has no decision yet on whether it will switch its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing as its assessment report is still up for discussion, Solomon Islands ambassador to Taiwan Joseph Waleanisia said Monday.

Waleanisia was responding to a Reuters' report earlier in the day which hinted at Solomon Islands' possible change in diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China, quoting Peter Kenilorea, an opposition lawmaker who chairs a foreign relations parliamentary committee.

Some content in the news report is "inaccurate," Waleanisia told CNA, adding that the embassy will issue a statement on Tuesday to make clarifications.

A cross-party task force charged with evaluating the Taiwan ties returned from a tour of Pacific nations allied to China just before a mid-August visit to Beijing by eight Solomons ministers and the prime minister's private secretary, according to the Reuters' report.

The ministerial panel focused more on technical consideration, including what Honiara can gain if it switches to China, Waleanisia explained. On the other hand, the cross-party task force was more policy-oriented, he added.

The taskforce will submit its assessment report to Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and to Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee within this week. A final decision will be made only after the cabinet, parliament and civil groups thoroughly discussed the report, Waleanisia said.

Waleanisia said the assessment, which aims to see if turning to China can bring more benefits to the country, is part of the 100 Days Program of Action launched by the new government after the general election in April.

The Solomon Islands is one of the six Pacific diplomatic allies of Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), and one of Taiwan's last 17 remaining diplomatic allies. However, Honiara's new leadership is re-evaluating relations with Taiwan, due to pressures from the opposition.

(By Elaine Hou and Emerson Lim)


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