Taiwan might send a task force to the Solomon Islands to learn more about its need for aid, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday, amid renewed speculation about a potential switch in the Pacific ally’s diplomatic recognition to China.
Speculation about a possible swap has been circulating since the Solomon Islands in April re-elected Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, whose government vowed to reassess the nation’s foreign relations.
Reuters on Monday reported that the nation might unveil a possible switch in ties as early as this week, after a team of Cabinet ministers visited Beijing last month.
It is not clear when the Solomons will conclude its assessment, but the team’s report is only part of the process, Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Deputy Director-General Chang Chun-yu (張均宇) told a routine news conference, citing “positive developments” in bilateral relations.
Solomon Islands Speaker of Parliament Patteson Oti on Aug. 6 led a delegation to the 49th annual conference of the Asian-Pacific Parliamentarians’ Union in Taipei, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Aug. 16 met with Sogavare and signed a bilateral visa waiver program at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, and 16 Solomon Islands government officials in a statement on Aug. 21 reaffirmed their faith in Taiwan, Chang said.
The department has previously said that the ally was mulling sending another task force to Taiwan after sending one to visit Beijing’s allies in the Pacific, but Chang said there is no further information about an additional task force.
Asked how the ministry is to aid the ally in improving infrastructure, as Sogavare requested during the Pacific Islands Forum, Chang said that the two nations would further deliberate details based on mutual trust.
If necessary, Taiwan would organize a delegation to visit Honiara to gather more information about its needs, he added.
Despite the mixed sources of information about bilateral ties, Taiwan has garnered “majority” support in the Solomon Islands legislature and society, Chang said.
The ministry believes that Honiara would confirm that maintaining ties with Taipei serves its “long-term benefit,” he added.
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
Food delivery provider Foodpanda had 564 consumer disputes from January to last month and failed to attend many mediation sessions with local governments nationwide, the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee said. In a news release earlier this month, the committee said that it investigated consumer complaints and mediations for Foodpanda and rival Uber Eats during the period, when the number of delivery orders jumped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber Eats had 80 consumer disputes, the committee said. Of Foodpanda’s consumer disputes, 368 resulted from delivery drivers canceling orders after customers could not be reached, 108 were related to the quality or quantity
Peggy Chen (陳佩琪), wife of Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), yesterday said that the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) claim that Taiwan had warned the WHO about possible human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 was “far-fetched.” The US on April 9 said that the WHO had put politics first and ignored Taiwan’s early warning in December last year, which the WHO denied the following day. The WHO said that it received an e-mail from Taiwanese authorities on Dec. 31 last year, but that “there was no mention in the message of human-to-human transmission.” Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC,
The Taipei City Government yesterday promised to improve its Taipei Card 3.0 application process after a city councilor said that it required applicants to provide irrelevant personal information. Taipei City Councilor Miao Po-ya (苗博雅) said that to activate the card — which can function as an EasyCard, Senior EasyCard, student card and library card, as well as provide discounts for restaurants, arts and entertainment in the city — people must provide personal information such as their passport number, occupation, education level, their spouse’s name, personal income, credit rating and health information. The city government said the system would help it digitalize and