China was hastily dismantling its mid-Pacific satellite-tracking base yesterday following the decision of the tiny Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati to recognize Taiwan, an eyewitness said.
\nTechnicians were seen burning files at the high security compound on Tarawa Atoll in Kiribati, the witness said.
\nThe closure of the tracking station followed the decision of newly-elected President Anote Tong on Nov. 7 to recognize Taipei.
\nChina, which continues to maintain its embassy on Tarawa, said yesterday it would suspend ties next week but by yesterday had withdrawn its doctors from the only hospital and halted construction of a sports stadium.
\nThe most dramatic action has centered on the satellite tracking station at the eastern end of Tarawa.
\nA nearby resident who did not want to be named reported that a Chinese ship arrived at Tarawa early this week, sparking action at the sprawling satellite base.
\n"It happened very suddenly," he said.
\n"It looks like they are dismantling the place. I saw them move one of the dishes down the road," he said.
\nAt the back of the compound the witness could see workers apparently burning files.
\n"It does look relatively deserted and the gates that are normally closed are currently open. There is no sign of activity, it's as though they have done the bulk of their work quite rapidly and quite covertly in the last couple of days," he said.
\nRadio Kiribati quoted Chinese Ambassador Ma Shuxue (
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