Member of Parliament (MP) for East Are Are Constituency and Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Kenilorea Jr has expressed disappointment over the government’s move to ignore the recommendation by the Foreign Relations Committee (FRC) before switching ties with China.
In a statement on Sunday Kenilorea Jr said it is discouraging that the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which was officially established on 21 September, 2019 in Beijing has again bypassed the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee (FRC).
He said the terms of reference in parliamentary standing order 71B(a) clearly states that the function of the committee is to also examine, observe and make recommendations on the establishment of diplomatic and consular relations.
“While the executive branch of government has the power to establish diplomatic relations, the oversight role of parliament through the work of its committees and the FRC as in this case, should also be respected.
“Careful scrutiny of the reasons and drivers behind establishing diplomatic relations need to be undertaken with inputs from the FRC.
“ Once again, the FRC can only recommend its findings to parliament. This does not, however, diminish the importance of a bi-partisan approach that takes into account the views of the wider public on such national matters,” he said.
On the decisions given by the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister to establish ties with China, there seems to be, in his view, two main considerations for Solomon Islands to establish ties.
“The first is to recognize the ‘One China Principle’. Yet, the UN Charter upholds the right to self-determination. Taiwan is in fact a State, as we know, given the three decades of our diplomatic relations with them as well as their own relations with the rest of the world.
“The second consideration to establish ties, in my view, is summed up in the remarks by the Foreign Affairs Minister, as reported by global news outlet Al jazeera, that Solomon Islands has ‘national needs’.
“We cannot deny that we have genuine development needs but China, nor any other country, is the cure. This responsibility to seriously address our pressing development challenges rests squarely on us,” he said.
But making such a declaration on day one of our relations, that the relationship is based on ‘needs’ , only cements Solomon Islands already vulnerable position going into the relationship, he said.
“It also sounds desperate. As such, the expectation, by the weaker partner in a relationship, that the more powerful partner will address its ‘needs’, must be carefully managed, as it could easily lead to situations where the weaker partner is exposed to abuse by the more powerful,” he concluded.