By RONALD TOITO’ONA
PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare has finally decided to publicly clarify the reason why his Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) voted in favour of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) over the Republic of China (Taiwan) early this week.
The outcome of the switch made headlines across the world this week, when the Sogavare-led DCGA decided to respect the ‘One China Principle’under United Nation Resolution 2758 of 197.
In the statement released late yesterday, the prime minister said Solomon Islands and its people have endured many challenges since Independence in 1978 in trying to forge a path towards achieving economic prosperity, social stability and lasting peace for the sake of future generations and the common good of our people.
The statement was his official message to the people of Solomon Islands, after so many unanswered questions and a planned Press conference with the local media to answer peoples doubt was cancelled on Tuesday.
Before clarifying the intention behind the switch, Mr Sogavare also took the time to recognise Taiwan for the long 36 years relationship with Solomon Islands.
“It is with deep gratitude that I express on behalf of my family and all members of the DCGA, my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the support rendered by Taiwan.
“….Taiwan over the past 36 years is an enduring friend and development partner who has stood with us during some of our darkest hours, the gratitude for which the change of diplomatic recognition will never take away,” he acclaimed.
The prime minister went on to clarify tocitizens of the country that, diplomatic friendships are based on shared values, mutual respect and national interests which in the case of Taiwan
“…we have reciprocated the support they have rendered over the past 36 years, by availing our marine resources and advocating to the United Nations (UN) for their right to self-determination as an independent sovereign nation despite the stand taken by the other 176 UN Member countries.
“Unfortunately, our plea over the past 36 years has been in vain and will continue to remain as such based on international law, the respect for territorial integrity, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence that collectively represent the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations,” he said.
Further, the democratic system within Taiwan consists of two major political parties, the currently ruling DPP that maintains a pro-independence stance for Taiwan, and the KMT that maintains a reunification policy, he said.
“The National elections are in January 2020 and having been through this cycle in the past, the Solomon Islands is better served making a decision that reflects our long term development interests rather than being uncertain over what might happen should one day Taiwan democratically decide to reunite with Mainland China.”
The prime minister added that formal recognition of the sovereignty of the Peoples Republic of China under the UN Resolution 2758 is supported by all UN countries except 16 underdeveloped nations which raises questions over whose interests does this minority support of small nations serve to represent against the vast majority of the global democracy?
“Solomon Islands cannot answer for other nations but to determine the most appropriate way forward for the good of our country and people is the reason why Cabinet collectively decided on the appointment of a Bi-Partisan Taskforce to investigate and confirm the facts surrounding the ‘One China Principle’ while MFAET was also tasked to provide a report on the review of our diplomatic ties with Taiwan.”
As a result, Mr Sogavare said the outcome of both reports confirmed that while we cannot deny the long standing friendship we have maintained with Taiwan, the future stability and well-being of Solomon Islands depends on our own ability to engage at the international level with development partners capable of advancing our national interests while we develop opportunities, strengthen our institutions, effectively manage resources and remain united in our quest for peace, prosperity and progress in the future best interests of our country.
Prime Minister Sogavare also went on to clarify that the decision by Cabinet to acknowledge the United Nations Resolution 2758 of 1971 requires Solomon Islands to sever diplomatic relations, but not people-to-people relationship, cultural exchanges, trade relations and investment, which will continue as long as Taiwan and Solomon Islands continue to exist on planet earth.
“Taiwan investments in the country will continue to be supported by Solomon Islands Government.
“They are entitled to incentives and the protections guaranteed by our laws. We would encourage more Taiwanese Investors to invest in the country, something they have not been actively doing over the 36 years of diplomatic relations.
“Their investments have been in political governments and political interests. The people of Taiwan are welcome to send cultural groups to Solomon Islands for cultural exchanges.
“These exchanges are not affected by the diplomatic switch,” the prime minister stated.
He further concluded that it was Taiwan that cut ties with Solomon Islands, for reasons that they are not happy with the Solomon Islands decision to comply with International Law governing the matter of diplomatic relations, and did so even before an official decision was announced and immediately began leaving the country before a proper farewell could be arranged.
“A cardinal point that the people of this country must understand is that Taiwan under international law is not entitled to have diplomatic relations with any sovereign country in the world because it is not recognized as a country by the United Nations.
“Our sovereign decision to sever the diplomatic relations is therefore consistent with International law,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the news of the switch was widely criticised by the majority of ordinary Solomon Islanders accusing the government for quickly rushing the whole process.
Up till this day, many people were not quite satisfied with the government decision.