Wed, Sep 18, 2019 - Page 1 News List

AIT decries Solomons’ switch to China

FALSE EXPECTATIONS:The US said that countries hoping that closer ties with China would help stimulate domestic growth often find themselves worse in the long run

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

A worker removes the nameplate of the Embassy of the Republic of China in the Solomon Islands’ capital, Honiara, yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday expressed the US’ disappointment over the Solomon Islands’ decision to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing and promised to continue supporting Taiwan.

Taiwan on Monday announced that it was severing relations with the South Pacific nation after Honiara decided to switch its political allegiance to Beijing.

The government also condemned attempts by Beijing to suppress Taiwan’s sovereignty and international presence.

Solomon Islanders in Malaita Province yesterday staged a peaceful protest against cutting ties with Taiwan, with demonstrators holding banners that read “Malaita for Democracy, Forget the $ Think, Leadership,” images posted on the “I am from Honiara, Solomon Islands” Facebook page showed.

While Solomon Islanders in other provinces were warned and dispersed by police, people in Malaita — the nation’s most populous province — are not welcoming China and even demanded independence, the page’s manager told the Taipei Times via text message.

Asked about the diplomatic break, the AIT said in a statement that Washington is deeply disappointed with the Solomon Islands’ move, but added that the US continues to support Taiwan, which is a democratic success story.

Countries that establish closer ties with China in hopes that it that it would help stimulate economic growth and infrastructure development often find themselves worse off in the long run, it said.

The US supports the “status quo” in cross-strait relations, including Taiwan’s diplomatic ties and international space, to maintain peace and stability in the region, it said.

The US is working closely with Taiwanese authorities in deepening cybercooperation by bringing Taiwan into the US Department of Homeland Security’s Automated Indicator Sharing system, AIT Director Brent Christensen said.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) yesterday reaffirmed the so-called “one China” principle, saying Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration was to blame for sabotaging the cross-strait “status quo.”

The DPP’s claim that Beijing lured Honiara through money diplomacy and political suppression is a lie deluding itself and others, he said in a statement.

Only when Taiwan endorses the “1992 consensus” can cross-strait relations develop peacefully, he said.

The so-called “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Beijing that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

The Australian Office Taipei said that the Australian government respects the Solomon Islands’ decision and that it would not affect relations between Canberra and Honiara.

In Tokyo, the prime minister’s office told a news conference that Japan’s consistent position is that issues related to Taiwan should be solved through peaceful means.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) — who on Monday visited Honiara — and Ambassador to the Solomon Islands Oliver Liao (廖文哲) are to return soon, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said, adding that it would take a few more months to close the embassy in Honiara.

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