Ministers, backbenchers and PMO official go for sightseeing in Beijing
BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
A high level government delegation involving ministers and backbenchers will head to mainland China tomorrow, August 15 – 19, it is reported.
They have been invited by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), an organisation with deep roots in the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
This means Solomon Islands’ government is sending a ministerial delegation to mainland China while its bipartisan taskforce is also on its way to China.
And, the mission of both delegations is to find more information about mainland China which would justify establishing bilateral relations between us.
This move shows Solomon Islands’ government leaning more towards mainland China although it insists that it is undecided whether to switch recognition from Republic of China (Taiwan) or not.
The ministerial group is headed by Minister of Communications and Aviation, Shanel Agovaka, and includes five other government ministers, two government backbenchers and an official from the office of the Prime Minister.
Shanel Agovaka – MCA, Harry Kuma – MOFT, Manasseh Maelanga – MID, Dudley Kopu – MRD, Anthony Veke – MPGIS, Clesy Rore – MCLII, Jackson Filaua – Deputy Chairman Caucus, Commins Mewa – Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman, Ronald Fugui – PM’s Private Secretary.
It is understood the delegation will be met by related Chinese institutions and enterprises. Sightseeing in Beijing will also be arranged for the delegation.
A media statement from the office of the Prime Minister yesterday confirms that taxpayers will meet the travelling allowances of the delegation. How much exactly is anyone’s guess.
The statement adds that travel and accommodation costs will be met by the Chinese.
“The SIG will provide for per diem and contingency costs in accordance with travel protocols for Ministers and Members of Parliament.
“The duration of the visit is from August 15th -19th.
“The Chinese People’s Association will meet the travel and accommodation costs for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).”
The Prime Minister’s Office explains that government is approaching its foreign policy in an open and transparent manner, adding that it has informed Taiwan of this ministerial trip.
“The Government delegation consisting of ministers and government backbenchers are expected to identify critical areas for potential engagements that will directly impact on a prospective relationship between both countries, should the Government decide to switch to China.
“This is necessary for the government’s commitment towards determining the best possible outcome for Solomon Islands that represents our long-term development interests; while also safeguarding internal stability through the implementation and delivery of key policies, which are aligned with our bilateral relationships.
“Due to the significance of the decision and potential implications arising from any shift from the existing status quo of our foreign policy, should there a shift, it warrants the presence of Ministers and Senior Caucus MPs to provide a broader view of sensitive issues. This will also ensure there is a higher level of access to decision makers within the PRC Government, which in the final analysis, will provide Cabinet with the additional insight required to make a fully informed decision.”
However, political pundits say whatever excuses our government is giving it out, few things remain certain, which are; more unnecessary costs for taxpayers, displaying a more PRC-philic behaviour, and getting its priorities wrong.
“Government has already began severing ties with Taiwan when it announced that it would consider diplomatic relations with mainland China, and it is pushing Taiwan further away with its increasing frolicking with mainland China,” a political insider said.
“This latest trip was initially intended to have been a secret, but was however leaked to social media which caused much outcry. Hence, government was forced to announce it via media statement today [yesterday],” a government insider said.
“This high level visit by the strategic Cabinet Ministers now raises more question than answers. It seriously questions the genuineness and impartiality of the Tripartite Task Force established by the DCGA to investigate and report to the Government for a possible decision to either remain with ROC or switch to PRC.”
CPAFFC is one of the three major foreign affairs organisations of the People’s Republic of China. Its stated aim is to promote friendship and mutual understanding between Chinese people and foreign nations.
It was founded in May 1954. Its current chairperson is Li Xiaolin, daughter of Li Xiannian former President of China. Its leadership is drawn from the upper ranks of the Communist party of China.