The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday that Vanuatu Prime Minister Serge Vohor did not inform his Cabinet in advance of his plan to establish diplomatic ties with Taiwan, in order to prevent China's interference.
Confusion over ties with Vanuatu arose shortly after Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) and Vohor announced the ties in Taipei on Wednesday.
Vanuatu's Foreign Affairs Department Director-General George Manuri said he was unaware that Vohor had gone to Taipei because he was supposed to have gone to Singapore and was due in Australia on Wednesday.
Manuri said he was "surprised and shocked" at the announce-ment, calling the move "a complete reversal" of the country's policy of recognizing Beijing.
An unnamed spokesman for acting Prime Minister Ham Lili told the Associated Press that the meeting in Taipei denied the government had established diplomatic ties with Taipei. The spokesman said the two countries had signed agreements on trade and economic relations which had nothing to do with bilateral relations.
MOFA refused to comment on the spokesman's comments.
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (
Vohor has asked Ham Lili to inform other Cabinet members of the development. Vohor's party holds the majority of seats in the parliament and he is confident the newly forged ties with Taiwan will be accepted, Kau said.
Vanuatu has tried to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan twice in recent years, but was forced to give up the plan due to China's opposition, Kau said.
To prevent the same thing from happening, Vohor had kept his trip to Taipei absolutely secret, Kau said, which is why officials in Vanuatu's Foreign Affairs Department were unaware of his schedule in Taipei.
In Beijing yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue (
MOFA spokesman Michel Lu (
"Twelve years ago, Vohor, who was then the foreign minister, firmly backed plans to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Since the two sides signed an agreement to recognize each other [in 1992], he has sought an opportunity to realize the plan," Lu said.
"Vanuatu, as the prime minister has said, is a sovereign country and has the right to make its own choice. China should respect Vanuatu's decision," Lu said.