The Solomon Islands on Thursday said that a deal signed by one of its provinces to lease the entire island of Tulagi to a Chinese company is unlawful and should be terminated.
Details of the controversial long-term lease between the Solomon Islands’ Central Province and China Sam Enterprise Group Co (中國森田企業集團) were made public shortly after the Pacific nation switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to Beijing last month. The shift in allegiance sparked a strong rebuke from the US.
Solomon Islands Attorney General John Muria said that the province and Chinese company were not legally able to strike such an agreement without government involvement.
“The agreement was not vetted by the attorney general’s chambers before signing,” Muria said in a statement.
The agreement was “unlawful, unenforceable and must be terminated with immediate effect,” Muria said.
The agreement, dated Sept. 22, purportedly offers wide-ranging powers to the Chinese conglomerate to develop infrastructure on Tulagi and surrounding islands.
Headquartered in Beijing, China Sam Enterprise Group is a technology, investment and energy conglomerate founded in 1985 as a state-owned enterprise.
It yesterday declined to make available executives who could speak to reporters.
In a statement on its Web site, the firm said that its representatives had met Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare early this month during a state visit to China by a delegation from the Pacific island nation.
Tulagi hosted US bases in World War II and is where the Solomon Islands former capital city was located before it was moved to the island of Guadalcanal.
A signatory to the agreement, Central Province Premier Stanley Manetiva told reporters that he would abide by the government’s advice.
“We have to comply to follow the right procedures,” Manetiva said.
Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) said that she had “no understanding” of the issue.
However, China has consistently called on Chinese companies operating abroad to follow local laws, she added.
China’s interests in the Solomon Islands have sparked criticism from Taiwan and the US, which have said that Beijing will saddle the island nation with unsustainable debt.
Yao Ming (姚明), deputy chief of mission at China’s embassy in Papua New Guinea, on Wednesday told a briefing in the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, that China would build some infrastructure, including a sports stadium, as a “state gift.”
The US and Britain were historically responsible for putting countries into financial distress, he said.
“China is not a country to make so-called debt traps,” Yao told local reporters. “You can see which country has been embroiled in debt traps... Not China, but United States and Britain.”
China would also support Huawei Technologies Co (華為) to build more infrastructure in the Solomon Islands, Yao said.
Australia, a strong regional ally to the US, has previously limited Huawei’s expansion in the archipelago.
IN A HURRY: The 199,200 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine expire on May 31, so the CECC might expand vaccine eligibility, but distribution would begin in a week at the earliest The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines allocated to Taiwan through the COVAX global vaccine-sharing program arrived yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said, adding that, after testing, it would be able to distribute them by Monday next week at the earliest. The 199,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were shipped from Amsterdam on a China Airlines (中華航空) plane and arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 5:21am. After the cargo was examined and release procedures were completed at the airport, the Aviation Police Bureau escorted the vehicles carrying the vaccines to a cold chain storage facility. Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General
HEATED TRAFFIC: As Beijing holds naval drills near Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense said it had a full grasp of the situation and would handle it ‘appropriately’ A Chinese carrier group exercising near Taiwan is part of what are to be regular drills, the Chinese navy said in a statement late on Monday, further escalating tensions between Taipei and Beijing. The group, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, was conducting “routine” drills in the waters around Taiwan, a move to “enhance its capability to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests,” the statement said. “Similar exercises will be conducted regularly,” it said, without elaborating. The statement came after the Ministry of National Defense earlier on Monday issued a statement regarding a rise in the number of incursions by Chinese jets into
AIMED AT TAIWAN? Institute for National Defense and Security Research research fellow Ou Si-fu said chips can be ‘bought off the shelf’ and then used in weapons The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said that chips from Taiwanese semiconductor companies were not making their way into Chinese missiles “to the best of our knowledge.” A report in yesterday’s Washington Post alleged that a Chinese company named Phytium Technology Co (飛騰) used chips made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), along with US software, in advanced Chinese military systems. “TSMC has long placed strict controls on their chips. The export of high-tech products from Taiwan is also highly regulated,” Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said. “According to our understanding, none of the end uses for those products
NO TIME: The driver tried to apply the brakes when he saw the truck, but the train did not have time to come to a full stop, an investigation report said The crane truck that caused last week’s fatal train accident had slid onto the tracks about one-and-a-half minutes before it was struck, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. The board had launched an investigation into the derailment, which killed 50 people and injured 211 people, making it the nation’s most devastating railway accident in decades. Carrying 494 passengers and four Taiwan Railways Administration personnel, the southbound express train to Taitung hit the truck as it was about to enter the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien’s Sioulin Township (秀林). The train derailed following the collision, with the left side of the eighth