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Son of Solomon Islands PM makes hasty retreat from Taiwan after diplomatic switch to China

Solomon Islands' 'Little Prince' said he had not been informed of country's decision to switch ties to China

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After news broke that the Solomon Islands had cut ties with Taiwan in favor of communist China, a son of the island country's Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare allegedly had to be woken after a night of heavy drinking and informed of the need to evacuate from Taiwan immediately.

Sogavare's youngest son, who local media outlets have referred to as "the Little Prince," had only been studying Chinese at a university in northern Taiwan for one month, with plans to enter medical school in southern Taiwan after a year. However, a day after his father decided to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan, he was allegedly found sound asleep in his dormitory, reported the Liberty Times.

On Monday (Sept. 16), the elder Sogavare's cabinet approved a resolution cutting diplomatic relations with Taiwan and establishing ties with communist China. The next morning, the junior Sogavare's university received notice that, in order to ensure his safety, both he and his attendant would be pulled from the school and sent to a secure location immediately.

However, when school administrators went to his dormitory, they had difficulty rousing the junior Sogavare due to his intoxicated condition. In addition, they reportedly found that he had been smoking in the room, a violation of school rules, according to the Liberty Times.

After being woken up, the young man acknowledged that he had to return to his home country. He claimed that his parents had not informed him of the move beforehand and that he did not learn of the switch until seeing the news on TV Monday evening.

The young student said that he liked Taiwan very much and did not want to go to Beijing, according to the report. As it appears that the Solomon Island's switch to Beijing had been in the works for some time, Sogavare's decision to send his son to Taiwan is a bit baffling.

A senior figure knowledgeable about Solomon Island politics told the news agency that the situation is a typical example of the "dual character" of the country's politicians. "On the one hand, they accepted China's beckoning, while on the other hand, they were not being honest with Taiwan," said the source.

Taiwan's Ministry of Education (MOE) referred to Articles 9 and 24 of the Regulations Regarding International Students Undertaking Studies in Taiwan (外國學生來台就學辦法). These state that if foreign students change their status in terms of enrollment, transfer, suspension, dropping out, or change or loss of identity, they must immediately notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Bureau of Consular Affairs and the nearest National Immigration Agency service center.

When asked to comment on the incident, the MOE said that out of concern for the student's privacy, it is not at liberty to discuss the situation, reported UDN.

In a Facebook post, Sogavare's son decried the report as fake news and asked the media to stop "playing the blame game," as he was not in any way involved. The student also expressed that he loved Taiwan and was saddened by the cutting of ties.

Updated : 2022-01-18 16:13 GMT+08:00