Taiwan monitoring visit by Solomon Islands officials to Beijing

Andrew Lee. Picture: CNA file photo)

TAIPEI, 18 JUNE 2018 (FOCUS TAIWAN NEWS CHANNEL) — The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is closely monitoring what it said is a “private” visit by a group of Solomon Islands government officials and parliamentarians to Beijing, a ministry spokesman said Saturday.

Legislator Wang Ding-yu of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party wrote on Facebook that a group of government officials and lawmakers from the Solomon Islands are currently in Beijing seeking China’s help to explore the country’s resources.

The Solomon Islands is one of only 18 diplomatic allies of Taiwan, and a meeting by representatives from the Pacific country with China could be worrying, especially after Taiwan has lost two allies in less than two months to Beijing’s lure of financial assistance.

MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee said, however, that the visit was not authorised by the Solomon Islands Cabinet, and the officials were taking the trip in their capacity as individuals.

“The Solomon Islands Cabinet did not authorise this visit. It is just a personal one,” Lee said, citing a report from the Republic of China (Taiwan) Embassy in Honiara.

It will not affect the relations between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands, he said, noting that every cooperation project existing between Taiwan and the Solomon Islands is being carried out smoothly, Lee said.

He admitted, though, that the visit has shown negative signs that the government needs to take seriously.

It comes shortly after Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela concluded a six-day official visit to Taiwan on May 25, during which he met with President Tsai Ing-wen and Taiwan agreed to help the Pacific ally host the 2023 Pacific Games.

Taiwan would not confirm, however, how much if any, financial assistance it offered to help stage the Games.

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