A sister-city agreement between Greater Kaohsiung and the Maldivian capital, Male, was declared invalid by the Maldivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, one day after the pact was signed.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official in Taipei yesterday said it was the first time a local government’s efforts to establish sister-city ties with a foreign city had been thwarted due to apparent pressure from China.
The Greater Kaohsiung Government has not yet responded to the Maldivian statement, posted on the Web site of the Maldivian ministry, which said that the government of the Maldives “does not recognize the memorandum of understanding.”
The government reaffirms its commitment and support to China’s national unity and to the “one China” policy, the statement said.
The Maldives’ firm belief in the “one China” policy is guided by the principles of respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of states and it considers Taiwan an integral part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the statement said.
China is a very important development partner for the Maldives and the government of the Maldives will continue to work with the PRC government to strengthen the close ties of friendship and cooperation that exist between the two countries, the statement said.
The signing ceremony was held on Sunday, just hours after a delegation of Greater Kaohsiung Government officials led by Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) arrived in Male for the four-day visit. The main purpose of trip was to sign the agreement.
The delegation is scheduled to return home tomorrow.
A Greater Kaohsiung Government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to reporters, said the idea for the sister-city link was proposed by Male Mayor Maizan Ali Maniku when he visited Greater Kaohsiung in November last year.
Ali Maniku and his delegation were interested in learning about Kaohsiung’s experience in promoting sustainable development, the official said.
Ali Maniku met with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) and they decided to become sister cities to forge a partnership on sustainable development, the official said. The two sides had discussions that led to the signing of the agreement covering urban infrastructure, tourism, the environment and the social and cultural arenas, she said.
Greater Kaohsiung was the first city in the nation to become a formal municipal member of Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), which was founded in 1990 as the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.
The ICLEI designated Greater Kaohsiung as one of its seven mentor cities in May last year in recognition of its achievements in promoting sustainable development.
At last year’s ICLEI World Congress, Greater Kaohsiung was assigned to mentor Male and help it facilitate sustainability.
A press release from the Greater Kaohsiung Government said the delegation had shared with its hosts the city’s experience in drainage pipeline network management, waste disposal, offshore submerged breakwaters, plant diseases and pest control, and solar power development. The delegation also conducted a field study of Male’s construction of a rainwater sewer system, erosion-prone sea embankment and how it deals with waste disposal and processes raw kitchen waste, the press release said.
Male would have been Greater Kaohsiung’s 28th sister city and Kaohsiung would have been Male’s second.