US Vice President Mike Pence has canceled plans to meet the prime minister of the Solomon Islands to discuss development partnerships after the Pacific island cut ties with Taiwan in favor of China this week, a senior US official said on Tuesday.
The Solomon Islands was the sixth nation to switch allegiance to China since 2016. Taiwan has accused China of trying to meddle in its presidential and legislative elections next year.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had asked Pence in July for a meeting, the senior official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The meeting was to have taken place this month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City, or afterward in Washington.
“But the decision by the Solomon Islands to change its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China has consequences. They’re hurting a historically strong relationship by doing this,” the US official said. “It’s a setback and it’s prioritizing short-term gain with China over long-term commitment with the US.”
The US has a fraught relationship with China over trade, defense and technology issues, while the administration of US President Donald Trump is also considering confronting Beijing over its detention of an estimated 1 million Muslims in Xinjiang at next week’s UN meeting.
Pence has criticized China for what he calls “debt-trap” lending practices to small nations, pushing them into debt and compromising their sovereignty.
China denies those charges.
“Countries that establish closer ties to China primarily out of the hope or expectation that such a step will stimulate economic growth and infrastructure development often find themselves worse off in the long run,” the US official said.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the US has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations when it comes to their relations with China, adding that the US also has no formal ties with Taiwan.
If the US really cares about Pacific island nations, it should do more to help them improve their economies and people’s lives, and not “brandish the stick of sanctions” at them, ministry spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) told reporters.
Taiwan has accused China of trying to lure away its allies with offers of cheap loans and other financial inducements.
In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday posted on Facebook messages from Solomon Islanders lamenting their nation’s decision to abandon Taiwan.
“The people of the Solomon Islands continue to leave us comments expressing their gratitude to the technical mission and the medical team, which have been working to help the local people there for years,” the ministry said. “Taiwan provides aid by bringing better lives to the local people directly and we don’t leave a debt trap in our wake, and this is the Taiwan model.”
China had offered US$8.5 million of development funds to the Solomon Islands ahead of its decision.
‘A DISASTER’: A successful Chinese attack on Taiwan would undermine the credibility of US security guarantees and could result in a global depression, three experts wrote A Chinese takeover of Taiwan would be a geopolitical catastrophe for the US and its allies, one that would overshadow almost all others over the next decade, US policy experts said. Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy in the US Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute; Gabriel Collins, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy; and former US deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger issued the warning in an article published on Friday in Foreign Affairs. Bejing’s invasion or annexation of Taiwan “would be a disaster of utmost importance to the United States, and I am convinced that
Taiwanese businesspeople’s investments in China last year hit a record low of 11.4 percent of total foreign investment, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday. The number was a huge decline from 83.8 percent in 2010, mainly because Taiwanese businesspeople have been diversifying their investments globally over the past few years, with great success, the council said. From 1991 to last year, 45,523 Taiwanese investments in China totaling US$206.37 billion had been approved, accounting for 50.7 percent of overall foreign investment, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission showed. The amount and proportion of Taiwanese investments in China has been declining, with
Taiwanese tourists on board a Kinmen cruise ship had a scare yesterday when it was intercepted by Chinese coast guards who forcefully boarded the vessel to inspect it. The Sunrise, a tourism ferry that operates between Kinmen and Xiamen, China, was sailing around the waters around the islets of Dadan (大膽) and Erdan (二膽) — both of which are part of Kinmen County — yesterday afternoon when it encountered personnel from China’s Fujian Coast Guard Bureau. China Coast Guard personnel forced their way on board and conducted an inspection for about 30 minutes before leaving, local media cited the tourists as saying. The
SEEKING CALM: The US called for maintaining the ‘status quo,’ while the Ministry of National Defense said it would not bolster defenses in the area to avoid raising tensions Taiwanese should have greater faith in the government’s investigation into the capsizing of a Chinese vessel that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday, adding that Taiwan abides by the rule of law. On Wednesday last week, a Chinese speedboat was spotted trespassing in “prohibited” waters within 1.1 nautical miles (2km) of the east coast of Kinmen. It fled after refusing the coast guard’s request to board the vessel, setting off a chase that led to the boat capsizing, with two Chinese fishers dying. Two survivors were deported back to China