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Taiwan shows 'humanitarian aid is not about politics'

Taiwan welcomes former diplomatic ally from Solomon Islands for urgent medical treatment

President Tsai Ing-wen with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in 2017.  

President Tsai Ing-wen with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in 2017.   (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The premier of a Solomon Islands province has received humanitarian medical aid from Taiwan even after the nation switched recognition to China in 2019, according to a senior fellow at the The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) on Thursday (May 27).

Daniel Suidani, premier of Malaita, the most populous province in the Solomon Islands, recently needed an urgent CT scan because of a possible brain lesion that was diagnosed about five months ago. Since the country does not have the medical device, Taiwan came to the rescue.

Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the country's president, instructed her government to arrange for Suidani, his wife, and special advisor, to come to Taiwan for treatment. They arrived on Wednesday (May 26) after a series of transit stops and quarantines.

Meanwhile, Canadian Cleo Paskal, the senior fellow at FDD, shared this "rare good news story" during an episode of The John Batchelor Show, which was broadcast on Thursday night. FDD is a Washington-based research institute.

Paskal said, "Humanitarian aid from Taiwan is not about politics, it's about good people building up other good people through a principled stance, it's really the way forward in the Indo-Pacific region."

She was referring to the island nation's break with Taiwan in 2019 after 36 years of diplomatic relations. The Solomon Islands decided to recognize China instead.

However, Daniel Suidani stayed true to Taiwan and even threatened to hold a Malaita independence referendum in September 2020. Paskal said this belief in Taiwan has naturally paid off.

"His faith in the importance of national relations based on common values — rather than alliances of 'interests' fueled by narrow economic interests — was borne out as the plane that was carrying him touched down on the runway in Taiwan,” Paskal wrote in an e-mail to her friend Kerry Gershaneck, a visiting professor at National Chengchi University.

Gershaneck commented: "This is an extraordinary story, and one for which the people of Taiwan can be quite proud. Premier Daniel Suidani stood up to the PRC, rejected their bribes, and he supports recognition of Taiwan."

Malaita has a population of 160,000 and accounts for about a quarter of Solomon's population.

Updated : 2021-06-13 17:35 GMT+08:00