Task force not final authority on Taiwan-Solomon Islands ties: MOFA

2019/09/02 12:02:27 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA File photo

CNA File photo

Taipei, Sept. 2 (CNA) A Solomon Islands task force that might soon recommend a switch in diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing will not have the final word in the government's decision on the issue, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Monday.

MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said the ties between Taiwan and the Pacific ally remain strong and stable, as evidenced by the ongoing cooperation between the two sides.

Ou's comments came in response to a Reuters' report earlier in the day, in which a Solomon Islands lawmaker hinted that the ministerial task force that recently concluded a trip to Beijing could soon recommend a change in diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

"There's a certain thinking with the current government and executive to switch," said Peter Kenilorea, an opposition lawmaker who chairs a foreign relations parliamentary committee that will review the recommendations, according to the Reuters report.

"It doesn't take much imagination to work out what the task force will recommend," Kenilorea was quoted as saying.

According to the Solomon Islands parliament's schedule, the task force could present its recommendations as early as this week, the report said.

The task force charged with evaluating the Taiwan ties was formed after a general election in April, when the new leadership under Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said it would reevaluate the bilateral ties with Taiwan during its first 100 days in office.

The task force, comprising eight Solomon Islands ministers and Sogavare's private secretary, recently toured Pacific nations allied with China then visited Beijing in mid-August, as part of its evaluation process, according to the Reuters.

Asked to comment on the report, Ou said Monday that the task force's recommendation is just one of many factors the Solomon Islands government will take into consideration in its ongoing evaluation.

Any decision made by the Solomon Islands government will require consultations with the parliament and Cabinet as well, she said.

Taiwan and Solomon Islands remain on good terms, Ou said, pointing out that Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Sogavare last month signed a visa waiver agreement in Tuvalu on the sidelines of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Also in August, a group of 15 Solomon Islands parliamentarians, including former Prime Minister Rick Hou, issued a joint statement in support of maintaining diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Ou noted.

In the statement, the parliamentarians said Taiwan has been a trustworthy partner in the Solomon Islands' development since 1983, when the two countries established diplomatic ties.

Some people have been pushing the new government to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing, lured by "the glitter of China's economic power," but they are in the minority and have motives other than the national interests of the Solomon Islands, the parliamentarians said.

The majority of Solomon Islands' citizens would reject any such proposal, according to the parliamentarians.

A diplomatic source told CNA at the time that 13 of the 15 parliamentarians who signed the statement were members of the Solomon Islands' Cabinet, which indicated a strong consensus in the current government on maintaining ties with Taiwan.

(By Joseph Yeh)
Enditem/pc


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