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.
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