Wed, Sep 04, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Government might send task force to Solomons

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Deputy Director-General Chang Chun-yu comments on Taiwan’s ties with the Solomon Islands during a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

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.

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