15 MPs come out declaring support for Solomon Islands-Taiwan relations
BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
FIFTEEN members of Parliament (MPs) have declared their support for Solomon Islands to maintain relations with Republic of China (Taiwan).
They are Rick N Houenipwela, Bartholomew Parapolo, Dr Tautai Kaituu, Dr Culwick Togamana, Augustine Auga, Dickson Mua, Samuel Manetoali, Senley Levi Filualea, Stanley F Sofu, Fredrick Kologeto, William Marau, Jeremiah Manele, Lanella Tanangada, John D Kuku, and Freda S.Tuki.
In a joint statement, these MPs said Solomon Islands has been enjoying cordial relations with Taiwan, being one of the country’s most important and trustworthy allies for more than 36 years and in recent weeks, the relations have been seriously tested.
“Hence we, the following Members of the National Parliament, would like to express our concerns over the current situation, and to affirm our support to maintain the current Solomon Islands -Taiwan diplomatic relations.
“We do so as individual MPs representing our respective constituencies and people, which we declare as follows:
1.We believe Taiwan has been a genuine friend with Solomon Islands through thick and thin. For example, at the height of the ethnic tension, the Taiwanese Embassy was the only foreign mission that chose to remain in Honiara during the entire period. Besides, we acknowledge that Taiwan was the only country that came to our rescue with emergency funding which prevented our Government from falling apart when Solomon Islands was on the verge of collapse;
2.We believe that since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1983, Taiwan has always been a trust-worthy partner in our development programmes. We acknowledge that over the years, Taiwan has provided much needed support in various sectors of the Solomon Islands economy, including in agriculture, health, education and human resources, rural development, clean energy, and in disaster management. We believe the footprints Taiwan has left are so deep, and obvious that they will not be forgotten easily;
3.We say that the review currently being undertaken in our relations with Taiwan is part and parcel of the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) policy to review Solomon Islands representations with all our diplomatic allies – not Taiwan only. That policy objective is essentially to assess how best Solomon Islands national interests can be served through its diplomatic relations;
4.We agree that in the case of Taiwan, having been with them for more than 36 years, a review of our relations may be timely with the view to enhancing the mutual interests of both countries. More especially, we appreciate that the review is an opportunity to seek ways to improve and strengthen our existing assistance programmes and to forge Solomon Islands national interests. We appreciate that from this review, Solomon Islands development aspirations should be further articulated to ensure Taiwan’s support is better designed to help address these aspirations;
5.We appreciate Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s efforts in conducting the review. At the same time, we are mindful of the sensitivities surrounding this policy action, so we urge it is conducted with caution so as to avoid any harm or embarrassment on either Solomon Islands or Taiwan;
6.We wish to correct the misrepresentation of DCGA policy action in this review. We reiterate that the review does not mean a switch in our relations from Taipei to Beijing. We strongly reject any suggestions to that effect, and further state that such statements are incorrect and misleading under the DCGA policy objective;
7.We state very clearly that we will not support any policy to change Solomon Islands Diplomatic ties from Republic of China (Taiwan) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). We believe the long term interests of our country – in terms of our development aspirations, as well as respect for democratic principles, human rights, rule of law, human dignity, and mutual respect – lie with Taiwan – not the PRC.
8.We are concerned that Solomon Islands, which rely heavily on trade, may be caught in a cross fire from the current trade war between China and United States;
9.We are aware some people are easily lured by the current glitters of PRC’s economic power. We note that “… not all that glitters is gold!” We are aware of important lessons from many countries – including in our region – who are locked in a serious debt trap as a result of their giving in to China’s lures. We are aware that the PRC economic power is being used very effectively and succinctly to promote and forge Marxist ideologies and practices globally, especially on vulnerable countries. We are aware of examples of governments which have compromised their religious freedoms, surrendered their land rights, compromised the rule of law, and even their people’s cultural heritage, as a result of succumbing to the infiltrations of these ideologies in their societies.
10.We are aware that the push for a switch from Taiwan to China is advocated by a minority group, and for reasons other than Solomon Islands national interests;
11.We know that the majority of our fellow citizens throughout this country would reject any proposal to switch relations from Taiwan to China. We understand that Prime Minister Sogavare continues to cherish Solomon Islands relations with Taiwan. We, the undersigned, therefore would like to demonstrate, and declare, our solidarity with the Prime Minster and all our fellow citizens, that we will safeguard the current diplomatic relations between Solomon Islands and Taiwan.”