Wed, Dec 05, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan slams Beijing for interference in Marshalls

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei accused Beijing yesterday of pouring money into the Marshall Islands to help the opposition in the just-concluded national elections in a bid to encourage the country to switch diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

"We are fully aware of China's interference in the election, which had a great impact on the results," said Donald Lee (李傳通), director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, during the ministry's regular press conference.

Although the ballot count has yet to be finalized, the opposition camp declared victory in the Marshall Islands' election last week.

A change of government in the Marshall Islands would raise concerns over its continued diplomatic ties with Taiwan, as Marshall Islands Parliamentary Speaker Litokwa Tomeing has declared his intention of establishing relations with Beijing.

Two days before the Nov. 19 election, Tomeing said the Marshall Islands had "wronged" China by recognizing Taiwan in 1998 and that it was time to "fix this problem by adopting a `one China' policy."

Tomeing defected from President Kessai Note's United Democratic Party the week before the election, joining the Aelon Kein Ad (AKA) Party, a main member of the opposition coalition known as the United People's Party.

"China has taken steps to work with the AKA, but the situation [how it views diplomatic relations with Taiwan] is now different," Lee said.

"We learned [on Monday] that Tomeing called our embassy and said that he was in no position to speak on behalf of the AKA [on the subject of] the Marshall Islands switching diplomatic ties to Beijing," Lee said.

"AKA spokesman Tony de Brum said two days ago that his party would continue to support Taiwan if it won the election and formed a new government," he said.

Beside condemning Beijing's interference in the election, Lee blasted some Marshall Islands-based Taiwanese businessmen for "helping" Beijing's campaign for AKA candidates.

"With help from Taiwanese businesspeople there, Beijing poured substantial amounts of money into the AKA candidates' campaigns three or four days before the election. They were unscrupulous. It's hard to believe they would choose to be Beijing's stooges," Lee said.

In related developments, Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) said at a separate setting that the government would spare no effort to maintain diplomatic relations with the Marshall Islands.

Asked whether Taiwanese businesspeople were involved in Beijing's interference in the election, Huang said the ministry required more time to assess the situation.

"We do have some information, but we don't want to mislead anyone," Huang said.

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