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Taiwan FM in Pacific to shore up Solomons ties

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Taiwan‘s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu insisted Friday that ties with the Solomon Islands were “rock solid” as speculation mounted that the Pacific nation could switch recognition to China after it sent a top delegation to Beijing.



Wu stressed that Taiwan “highly cherished” relations with the 17 countries that officially recognise Taipei rather than Beijing, especially the Solomon Islands which is one of its oldest allies.



He described ties with the Solomon Islands as “rock solid” in a tweet after meeting Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare while attending a regional conference in Tuvalu, also a Taiwan ally.



The Solomon Islands is being courted by China which has been investing heavily in the Pacific.



China still sees self-ruling democratic Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if must.



Relations between Beijing and Taipei have plummeted since President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016 because her party refuses to recognise the idea that Taiwan is part of “one China“.



As punishment, Beijing has cut official communications, increased military exercises, poached five of Taipei’s diplomatic allies and blocked it from attending a string of international events.



China has also stepped up economic pressure on Taiwan, including banning individual tourists to the island.



The Solomons, where only about 50 percent of the population have access to electricity, is heavily reliant on foreign aid.



The impoverished South Pacific archipelago is being pressured to sever ties with Taiwan and join up with China‘s multibillion-dollar “Belt and Road Initiative”.



A Solomons delegation which includes six ministers is currently visiting China on a trip funded by Beijing, according to the Solomon Star News.



The trip came as Sogavare recently appointed a task force “to look into the option” of switching diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China, the report said.



Taiwan said it had been briefed by the Solomons government about the visit.



“We believe that most Solomon Islands politicians and the general public are aware of the traps behind China‘s wooing … the communication channels between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands are smooth and our relations are stable while various cooperation projects are going on as scheduled,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said in a statement.



Fiji PM labels Australia PM ‘very insulting’ after Pacific standoff
Sydney (AFP) Aug 17, 2019 -
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama blasted his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison as “very insulting”, saying China offers a more welcoming brand of diplomacy following a tense Pacific summit.



Bainimarama accused Morrison of heavy-handed tactics after the Pacific Island Forum wrapped up in Tuvalu Thursday with pro-coal Canberra sharply at odds with island nations facing the existential threat of climate change.



“The prime minister (Morrison) was very insulting, very condescending, not good for the relationship,” Bainimarama told the Guardian late Friday.



The group had hoped to issue a compelling global call to action from nations on the frontline of climate change ahead of UN talks in New York next month.



But after 12 hours of negotiations that descended into tears and shouting, the summit communique fell well short of expectations with language watered down at the insistence of the Australian PM, island leaders said.



Morrison pledged Aus$500 million in aid to Pacific Island nations to invest in renewable energy and climate change resilience, part of a strategy to counter China‘s rising influence in the region.



But leaders of the other 17 nations in the Pacific Island Forum have called on Canberra to do more to cut emissions and curb Australia‘s lucrative coal industry.



“(Morrison) at one stage, because he was apparently [backed] into a corner by the leaders, came up with how much money Australia have been giving to the Pacific,” Bainimarama said. “Very insulting.”



The Fijian leader added there was “no competition” in the region between Australia and China, but commended Beijing‘s approach to diplomacy.



“They don’t go down and tell the world that we’ve given this much money to the Pacific islands. They don’t do that. They’re good people, definitely better than Morrison, I can tell you that,” he said.



Morrison, who concedes climate change is real but insists it can be managed in a way that does not hurt the economy, has denied a rift between Pacific leaders.



“We showed up, we’re stepping up, and it’s getting on,” he said following the negotiations that dragged into the early hours of Friday morning.



Meanwhile, Australia‘s deputy prime minister Michael McCormack has caused a stir after being caught on camera saying Pacific nations would weather climate change thanks to Australian aid and a program that allows islanders to work in seasonally in Australia.



“They’ll continue to survive because many of their workers come here and pick our fruit, pick our fruit grown with hard Australian enterprise and endeavour and we welcome them and we always will,” he said in a video published by the Guardian.

Related Links

Taiwan News at SinoDaily.com



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Beijing (AFP) Aug 14, 2019


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Dozens of users on Wednesday complained that certain phone models made by Huaw … read more






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