Dep. Foreign Minister: Solomon Islands to review, 'not switch' ties with Taiwan

Ministry of Foreign Affairs says 'ties remain stable' with Pacific ally

File photo: Solomon islands PM Houenipwela and President Tsai, May 2018

File photo: Solomon islands PM Houenipwela and President Tsai, May 2018 (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Deputy Foreign Minister Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) stated on Thursday, March 21, that relations with the Solomon Islands remain stable, despite recent speculation that the country may be preparing to break ties.

Hsu has spoken with officials of the Solomon Islands who reportedly told him that a “review of Taiwan ties” does not mean there will be a “switch” to Beijing. Rather, the review is intended to reassess how funds from Taiwan are allocated for national projects.

The Solomon Islands is preparing for an election on April 3, and discussion of Taiwan relations, and potentially more financially lucrative deals with Beijing, have become an election issue. The ruling Democratic Alliance Party has made a “review of Taiwan ties" a pledge in its most recent manifesto, reports Reuters.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly assured the Taiwanese public that, despite difficult circumstances in the South Pacific, relations with regional allies are being handled with the “utmost care.”

The statements from Deputy Foreign Minister Hsu follow a report made Wednesday, March 20, that he recently met with United States National Security Council officer, Matt Pottinger, in the Solomon Islands earlier this month.

Pottinger’s visit to the Solomon Islands indicates that the White House is also paying close attention to the political situation in the country. Pottinger was reportedly in the Solomon Islands specifically to meet with Hsu.

Hsu emphasized that, although the Solomon Islands will likely conduct a review of Taiwan ties and funds pending the election’s outcome, relations between the two countries “remain stable.”

Hsu said that Solomon Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela recently told him that the country cherishes its friendship with Taiwan, and that there is no risk of outside pressure undermining that friendship, reports Liberty Times.