Thu, Mar 21, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Relations with Pacific allies ‘steady’

MISLEADING:Five of Taiwan’s allies signed a communique last month, but not at the summit mentioned by Deutsche Welle’s Chinese Web site, a ministry spokesman said

By Lu Yi-hsuan and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

From right, embassy official Liao Wen-che, Ambassador to the Solomon Islands Roger Luo, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien and US National Security Council Senior Director Matt Pottinger are pictured in the Solomon Islands earlier this month.

Photo from the US embassy in Papua New Guinea Facebook

Relations between Taiwan and its Pacific allies are “steady,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said yesterday in response to a Deutsche Welle report suggesting that relations might be faltering.

The Deutsche Welle’s Chinese-language Web site in a report on Tuesday cited Radio New Zealand as saying that at last month’s Pacific Islands Forum, the presidents of five nations — including Palau, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Kiribati — signed a joint communique to ask the forum to treat Taiwan and China equally, but also agreed to show more goodwill toward China.

The Web site quoted RAND Corp senior defense analyst Derek Grossman as saying that the joint communique was signed by “all six of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the South Pacific.”

Lee confirmed that the five nations — Palau, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia — signed a joint communique last month.

However, he said it was signed at the Micronesia Presidents’ Summit and did not mention “showing more goodwill toward China.”

Taiwan’s six allies in the Pacific did not sign a joint communique, he added.

Deutsche Welle also reported that the Solomon Islands’ ruling party had previously said it would reassess the nation’s diplomatic relations with Taiwan if it wins next month’s general elections.

Although relations are “reliable” between Taiwan and Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands, which President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is to visit over the next eight days, the Solomon Islands could be the next among Taiwan’s allies to “turn to China,” Deutsche Welle said, citing Grossman.

Lee said that the “overall bilateral situation” between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies in the Pacific is “steady.”

However, the situation in the Pacific region continues to change, he said, adding that several of the nation’s allies in the region would hold elections soon.

The ministry would respond with the “most careful attitude,” he said.

At the Micronesia Presidents’ Summit, which was held in Palau on Feb. 20 and 21, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called Taiwan a “democratic success story, a reliable partner and a force for good in the world,” according to a statement released by the US embassy in Suva, Fiji.

In his speech, Pompeo also quoted US Vice President Mike Pence as saying: “We [the US] respect and support the decision those of you have made to continue to support Taiwan.”

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on Monday posted on Facebook a photograph of US National Security Council Senior Director Matt Pottinger, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) and Ambassador to the Solomon Islands Roger Luo (羅添宏) taken in the Solomon Islands earlier this month.

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