Kenilorea: decision to switch regrettable - Solomon Star News

Kenilorea: decision to switch regrettable

18 September 2019

OPPOSITION spokesman for Foreign Affairs Peter Kenilorea says the Government's decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China is regrettable.

“It is regrettable that caucus and cabinet have already decided to establish relations with China, ignoring the ongoing process that was embarked upon by Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee,” Kenilorea, who is also the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said.

“What’s more, the decision to switch may not have benefitted from sound analysis,” he added.

Cabinet made the decision to switch on Monday night.

Kenilorea said:

“Decisions to establish and sever diplomatic ties are always going to be a sovereign decision. 

“In this case, focus has always been on establishing ties with Beijing as opposed to reviewing or even deepening ties with Taiwan. 

“The vote by caucus and cabinet reflected this. In making the switch now, leaders have met the deadline set by China to switch before their 70th anniversary China. 

“However, as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee (FRC), I intend for the FRC to complete its work and present its report to Parliament. 

“How the government conducts its foreign policy is also in the terms of reference of the current inquiry.

“So the findings of the FRC will still be very relevant. 

“Perhaps even more so now that a dominant China has entered the national consciousness of Solomon Islands.”

Kenilorea said there are broader foreign policy issues that still needs to be examined and “ is shown to be hollow, given a (former) friend has just been shown the door. 

“But in terms of the bigger picture, the vision for a modern democratic Solomon Islands, I can’t help but feel we may have missed an opportunity to standout from the rest and perhaps even buck the trend. 

“An opportunity that could have allowed us to be unique and chart our own course has been pulled from under our feet. 

“We now fall into the same category as everyone else. 

“Following the decision, Taiwan has severed ties with us. 

“Our leaders of course now expect China to step in and fill that gap soon. After 36 years, relations between two former friends have abruptly ended on a sour note.

“Now we need to prepare as best we can for China. 

“I still maintain that we are unprepared for this change. 

“We will need to quickly learn how to manage relations with China.” 

Kenilorea, who had served with the United Nations in New York for over 17 years,  thanked Taiwan for their friendship and cordial relations over the years. 

“For much of the time that relationship has been mutually beneficial for Solomon Islands and Taiwan.

“They continue to be a shining example of how an island can be successful in spite of the obvious challenges they face. 

“The people to people connections will endure. And their fight for political recognition will continue, I’m sure.”