Solomon Islands discusses whether to make diplomatic switch to China today

Government-appointed task force advises Pacific island nation to cut ties with Taiwan

Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare (Source: CNA/ File photo)

Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare (Source: CNA/ File photo)

[Last update at 11:50 on Sept. 13]

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s longtime Pacific ally the Solomon Islands convened on Friday (Sept. 13) to discuss whether the country should switch diplomatic ties to China .

The prime minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, reportedly held a Cabinet meeting Friday morning to discuss the report submitted by a bipartisan task force formed to evaluate the archipelago nation’s relationship with Taiwan.

The task force concluded that the Solomon Islands should formally establish diplomatic relations with China, reported CNA. In doing so, the Pacific island state would terminate its 36-year ties with Taiwan so as to abide by Beijing’s “one-China principle,” reducing the number of Taiwan’s allies to 16.

The task force advised the government to formalize relations with China by mid-September so that the country can take part in the 70th-anniversary celebration of the People’s Republic of China. As part of an initiative by Sogavare’s newly elected government to examine the Solomon Islands’ foreign policy, the task force has in recent months visited Beijing and Chinese allies in the Pacific region.

Taiwan’s ambassador to the Solomon Islands, Oliver Liao (廖文哲), told CNA that the embassy has asked Taiwan-friendly parliamentarians to speak in favor of the country during the meeting on Friday. It is not known for certain whether the country has made its decision as of press time.

Earlier this week, while a delegation led by Solomon Islands’ Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele visited Taiwan, an official said the task force’s evaluation would be one of the elements the government takes into consideration in looking at its relationship with Taiwan. Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in 2016, China has poached five of Taiwan’s allies, including São Tomé and Príncipe, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso, and El Salvador, as part of its efforts to isolate the island.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) has warned allies of empty Chinese promises of flashy infrastructure projects and financial aid that leave countries saddled with insurmountable debt. Reuters previously reported that China promised to provide US$8.5 million in development funds to the Solomon Islands if it was to make the diplomatic switch.