Solomon Islands bilateral and diplomatic relations under scrutiny

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BY GEORGINA KEKEA

SOLOMON Islands position in countries and territories of conflicting interests was under scrutiny and questioned by the media in Australia recently.

Last week Prime Minister Rick Hou was in Brisbane for a Business Forum and was queried by ABC on Solomon Islands positions with Republic of China (ROC) Taiwan and West Papua.

Prime Minister Rick Hou says Solomon Islands continue to have strong bilateral and diplomatic relations with Taiwan while at the same time revealed that Solomon Islands recognise Indonesia as a sovereign country and does not advocate for independence for West Papua.

In the interview with ABC, Prime Minister Rick Hou said the government’s position will continue to remain with Taiwan and he is not aware of any overtures by Mainland China towards Solomon Islands. He said Solomon Islands have trade relations with Mainland China, a relationship that the government does not see any problem with.

Hou said he is aware though of suggestions made by people, commentators and the media about Solomon Islands looking into having a relationship with Mainland China.

“But as a government and as a country, the position that I explained, we maintain,” he said.

The People’s Republic of China or Mainland China views Taiwan as their province while Taiwan maintained that they are a country of their own with a democratically elected government. UN does not recognise Taiwan. Taiwan wants to become a member of the United Nations but lost its seat in that body in 1971, when the UN chose to recognise the People’s Republic of China instead. There can be only one China in the world, the UN decided.

At the same time on the issue of West Papau, Hou was being questioned on the consultation work carried out by his government to seek opinions and views by people of the provinces on the West Papua issue.

Hou said what the government is trying to achieve was to find out what people know about the West Papua issue and Melanesians in Indonesia.

“We are not advocating independence, we recognise that Indonesia has sovereign rights over what they claim as their country and we as a country recognise that.”

In a nutshell, since the 1960s, the Free West Papua Movement have protested against the government of Indonesia for Independence. Indonesia and West Papua had been a Dutch colony.

When Indonesia and Netherlands hadn’t been able to resolve their differences, West Papua was handed over to the UN in what was known as UN Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA). From thereon, they relinquished the territory to Indonesia.

Then on in 1969, following a referendum which was claimed to be rigged, West Papua was formally integrated into Indonesia.

The conflicting interests in Indonesia continues till now so as Taiwan (ROC) and mainland China.

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