By Alfred Sasako
PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela may have been “talked out” of a private meeting with President Xi Jinping of China during the APEC Summit being held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Officials accompanying the Prime Minister confirmed last night that no meeting took place between the two leaders.
Island Sun understands that prior to the Summit, Prime Minister Houenipwela was “invited” by the host, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neil, with the plan to meet with President Xi on the sideline in mind.
But it appeared Mr Houenipwela was talked out of the meeting by Australia and the United States.
China and the United States have clashed over Trade and Security at Pacific Summit at which President Xi invokes lessons of World War II to warn against unilateralism, while US Vice President Pence attack China’s Belt and Road initiative.
Chief of Staff John Usuramo told Island Sun last night no meeting took place between Prime Minister Houenipwela and President Xi
“There was no meeting between PM and the China boss,” Mr Usuramo said in response to a query from Island Sun.
The Prime Minister however met with the Indonesian President. Indonesia is believed to be funding the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
Last night Houenipwela met with the new Australian Prime Minister and Prime Minister O’Neil of Papua New Guinea, according to Mr Usuramo.
The news of the “no meeting” comes amidst revelation that when officials briefed Government Ministers and Backbench a month ago about Beijing’s offer of millions of dollars in investment in Solomon Islands, no MPs including the Prime Minister uttered a word.
“No one said a thing about it because they want hard cash from Taiwan. There won’t be any movement in the diplomatic struggle unless China starts offering hard cash to our current MPs,” one official said.
“The MPs are stucked on Taiwan’s easy cash handouts.”
Insiders said the position seems to be supported by all the Coalition Party members in Government.
“They do not want investment. They are interested in hard cash, not investments and or trade.
“The position is so evident that when Members of the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) held their retreat last month the Taiwan-China question was never even discussed,” one insider said.
Prime Minister Houenipwela is the Parliamentary Wing Leader of the DAP.
“Everyone including the Prime Minister never said a thing. They all just sat there and looked at each other as if there was nothing to say,” the insider said.