By ANDREW FANASIA
THE country’s ties with Taiwan remain stronger despite mounting pressure from mainland China in the region.
This was evident when Taiwan’s visiting deputy Foreign Minister Szu-Chien Hsu met Prime Minister Rick Hou on Monday in Honiara and reassured him of his country’s support.
The meeting happened days after their earlier meeting in Nauru last week during the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum.
At the Nauru summit, the diplomatic tussle between Taiwan and China was at play.
Taiwan recently lost some of its allies in Africa and South America, who have decided to switch ties to mainland China.
There is fear the same could happen in the Pacific with Taiwan’s six allies as mainland China attempts to intrude into Taiwan’s international space.
However, the Solomon Star understands with Taiwan’s offer to assist the country fund the sports infrastructures needed to host the 2023 Pacific Games, our diplomatic ties have remain intact.
Taiwan is also opening up its labour market for Solomon Islanders graduating from Taiwanese universities.
The scheme is expected to start this year.
This will allow young graduates to live and work in Taiwan after their graduation.
Mr Hou on Monday welcomed Taiwan’s reassurance and commitment to support the country in its preparation for the 2023 Pacific Games.
He said the Pacific Games remains a priority project for the Government for the next five years.
Mr Hou said work is currently progressing behind the scene and he is optimistic that a tangible outcome should be signed off before the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the Taiwan deputy Foreign Minister has also assured the Prime Minister of Taiwan’s support in the areas of rural development, health, agriculture and education.
“Solomon Islands remain an important friend and our biggest out of the six allies in the Pacific islands region,” he said.
Prime Minister Hou in response acknowledged the continuous support Taiwan has rendered to Solomon Islands in all sectors.
It is understood that mainland China is applying pressure on Taiwan’s Pacific allies to isolate Taipei.
Six Pacific countries maintaining diplomatic ties with Taipei are Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu
That pressure is expected to be more visible in the coming months, with Chinese President Xi Jinping planning a summit for regional leaders in Papua New Guinea in November.
The summit will be held prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, which Port Moresby is hosting.