Solomon Islands has no set date to decide on Taiwan or China: embassy

09/05/2019 08:39 PM
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Taipei, Sept. 5 (CNA) The Solomon Islands has not set a date for making a decision on whether to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan or switch to China, its embassy in Taipei said Thursday.

The decision will be made sometime after the Solomon Islands Cabinet reviews a report by a task force that was assigned to examine the issue, and pending the outcome of discussions between the Foreign Relations Committee and Parliament, the embassy said a statement.

"The Office of the Prime Minister has not announced when it is likely to make a decision on whether or not the government agrees to switch diplomatic ties to China or remain with Taiwan," the embassy said.

The report it referred to was compiled by a cross-party task force that toured Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, all Pacific nations allied to Beijing, to evaluate the impact of China's aid and concessional loans on their infrastructure development and economies.

In the meantime, the embassy said, the Solomon Islands will continue to reinforce its ties with Taiwan.

"Unless and until the Solomon Islands Government announces its decision ... the government and people of the Solomon Islands continue to cherish relations with Republic of China Taiwan," the embassy said, adding that it will work toward strengthening ties with Taiwan.

The statement was issued in the wake of a Reuters report last week that quoted Peter Kenilorea Jr., chairman of the Solomon Islands Foreign Relations Committee, as hinting at a possible shift in diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China by the Solomon Islands.

"The news release from Reuters (Sydney) on September 2nd contained several incorrect details," the embassy said.

For example, the embassy said, the information on the composition of the task force and the purpose of its recent tour was inaccurate, the embassy said, adding that the visits were made to evaluate ties between China and its Pacific allies, not the Solomon Islands' relations with Taiwan.

The task force was seeking to draw lessons from the way China provides aid and concessional loans to its allies, the embassy added.

On Thursday, Reuters cited the head of the task force as saying that China is offering to bankroll a development fund for the Solomon Islands if it switches diplomatic ties from Taiwan to Beijing.

The task force's report is expected to be submitted to Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare this week, after which it will be reviewed by the Cabinet and debated in Parliament and in public hearings, according to the embassy.

The issue of the Solomon Islands' possible switch in diplomatic allegiance has been in the spotlight since its new government said after it was elected in April that it would be reviewing its relations with Taiwan and China.

(By Emerson Lim)


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