Solomon Islands seizes Taiwan's donation of anti-pandemic supplies meant for province in need

Former ally's central government blocks Taiwanese supplies from reaching Malaita Province, China calls donation 'illegal'

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Solomon Islands. (Wikipedia photo)

Solomon Islands. (Wikipedia photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Thursday (Aug. 6) that Taiwan's donation of anti-pandemic supplies to a province of the Solomon Islands has been seized by the central government of the South Pacific nation.

Despite the Solomon Islands' decision to end diplomatic relations with Taiwan and switch ties to China last year, the Taiwanese government has managed to stay on good terms with Malaita and has donated masks, soap, thermometers, and rice to the province. Malaita Premier Daniel Suidani has expressed gratitude for the gesture, referring to Taiwan as a country.

The Solomon Islands' government reacted by reprimanding Suidani for violating the "one-China policy." The Chinese embassy in the Solomon Islands also cried foul, saying Suidani's acceptance of relief supplies was "illegal" and "undermined the integrity of China's sovereignty," and it demanded that local governments in the archipelago country avoid any official contact with Taiwan, reported New Talk.

During a regular press briefing on Thursday, MOFA official Chang Chun-yu (張均宇), who specializes in Pacific affairs, confessed that many of the pandemic donations to Malaita have been seized by the Solomon Islands' central government. He said this has upset the people of the province, as some of them urgently need supplies, according to CNA.

Although the Solomon Islands has yet to record any coronavirus infections, its economy has been severely impacted by tightened border control measures around the world. The country has said it is short on anti-pandemic supplies and warned that an outbreak of COVID-19 would be catastrophic to the territory, Solomon Times reported.