The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday declined to confirm or deny reports that China had offered US$500 million to the Solomon Islands to cut ties with Taiwan, but the ministry blasted a report by a Solomon Islands task force, which it said was full of misinformation.
Rumors that the Pacific ally is to switch allegiance from Taipei to Beijing have been circulating since the Solomon Islands held a general election in April, but speculation reached new heights after Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare last week made the explosive remarks that Taiwan’s politics and economy are “completely useless” in the Pacific region.
Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) last month reportedly offered US$500 million in aid to a task force visiting from the Solomon Islands if the nation would switch recognition before China’s National Day on Oct. 1, Chinese-language Up Media reported on Friday.
To counter any outcry in the Solomon Islands from the general public, Beijing also promised to send medical and agricultural missions to Honiara — as Taiwan has been doing — although the missions might be operated by Changsheng Biotechnology Co and state-owned Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co, which were implicated last year in making bogus animal and human vaccines, the report said.
Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) yesterday reiterated the government’s warning to its allies about the traps concealed in Beijing’s offers.
The Chinese government’s promises are often flamboyant but hollow, and might only serve the personal interests of a few politicians, she said, calling on well-informed citizens and “responsible politicians” in Honiara not to sacrifice their sovereignty and general welfare to Beijing’s political plots.
The Up Media report uncovers China’s ruses of using money to rob Taiwan of diplomatic allies and satisfy its predatory and expansionist Belt and Road Initiative, she added.
The Solomon Islands task force to Beijing turned in a report that recommended cutting ties with Taipei, but the report is full of distorted, selfish, incorrect and boastful statements, she said.
The Report of the Bi-Partisan Task-Force: Review of Solomon Islands Relations with People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Republic of China (ROC) tells the Solomon Islands to “normalize diplomatic relations with the PRC,” “sign joint communique to establish new diplomatic relations” and “severe [sic] diplomatic relations with ROC.”
The ministry said in a statement on Friday that some task force members attended the general assembly of the Asian-Pacific Parliamentarians’ Union in Taipei last month, but that the ministry did not talk with them about diplomatic ties because they had not come as a fact-finding delegation.
The claim in the task force’s report that ministry officials told them that Taiwan would not conduct any special assistance programs in the Solomon Islands is simply a lie, it said.
The ministry reiterated its appeal that the ally decide on ties in a democratic, lawful, open and transparent manner, saying that the 36-year friendship between them “might be jeopardized.”
Asked if the ally proposed any “price” for maintaining ties when Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeremiah Manele met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in Taipei last week, Ou said that the two sides deliberated over collaborations, not money.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) is to travel to Honiara next week to hold further talks about diplomatic relations, she added.
Meanwhile, Solomon Islanders revealed a sense of urgency on social media.
The Youths Online Campaign — For Change Solomon Islands yesterday wrote on Facebook that the task force report was “very poorly researched, badly written and presents incredibly weak arguments.”
The “I am from Honiara, Solomon Islands” Facebook page urged compatriots to stand up to defend their nation’s welfare, warning that cutting ties with Taiwan would also “affect our relationships with other democratic friends including the US, Australia, New Zealand and others.”
“China promises huge money and flashy infrastructures but usually, the politicians and those in higher positions are the only ones benefited and their actions are not friendly to rural people and their environment,” it added.
DOING ENOUGH? The HPA budgets NT$1.3 billion to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but has no separate budget to fight teen drinking, a doctor said The government should step up alcohol education and prevention efforts, and allocate more of the budget to it, doctors said on Friday, citing the high consumption of alcohol among Taiwanese adolescents. One out of four 12-to-17-year-olds has consumed alcohol, said Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital’s Department of Clinical Toxicology. The Health Promotion Administration (HPA) budgets NT$1.3 billion (US$43.9 million) annually to prevent the health hazards of tobacco, but it has not allocated a separate budget for preventing teenage drinking or excessive alcohol use, Yen said. “There is no so-called ‘safe drinking level’ for minors,” because any amount consumed
The Fancy Frontier manga and anime expo held in Taipei over the weekend has sparked controversy, after a participant allegedly contravened the Act on Offenses Against Sexual Morality (妨害風化罪) by publicly exposing her private parts during a photo shoot. The two-day event opened at the Expo Dome at the Taipei Expo Park on Saturday, attracting numerous comic and anime creators, cosplayers, photographers and fans. Allegedly, a female cosplayer who was not wearing any underwear lifted up her skirt and revealed her private parts at an outdoor photography area near the venue. Event organizers said yesterday that to prevent indecent exposure, they have since
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb
The National Taiwan Museum’s Railway Department Park in Taipei is to open to the public today. The park in Datong District (大同) near the North Gate (北門, Beimen) is one of the museum’s four branches. During the Japanese colonial era, the site housed the railway department of the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan’s Bureau of Transportation. After World War II, it served as the headquarters for the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) for several decades. In 2007, it was listed as a national monument under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法). At an opening ceremony yesterday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung