THE Western Provincial Government (WPG) has officially declared its strong stance for the country to formally switch ties from the Republic of China (ROC) – Taiwan to Peoples Republic of China (PRC).
In a press statement issued by the WPG media officer Brian Beti over the weekend, the Western provincial executive has announced its support in light of a pending decision by the government to switch ties or remain with Taiwan.
Reports from the delegation that recently visited various Pacific Island countries that has ties with China and Beijing are expected to be scrutinized and deliberated before a decision is being made.
The move to switch ties has received mix reaction from ordinary citizens and the country’s leaders.
But in a statement issued over the weekend in Gizo, the Western Provincial Premier David Gina expressed his province’s support to change ties and leave Taiwan.
“Western province wholeheartedly supports the move of switching diplomatic alliance to mainland China and this must be allowed to happen,” Mr Gina expressed.
He said there is an irony to the move and a well acknowledged fact that a high number of mainland Chinese businesses are currently engaged in retail business in the country.
The premier said in our many years of legal logging in the country, most trees logged from the country were all exported to China and not Taiwan.
“So we expect nothing new to happen if remain with Taiwan, but we should except the obvious by changing the course across to mainland China.
“Perhaps our economy would be better off with China from its current status.
“Considering the amount of businesses that can lend itself using diplomatic channels enjoyed by many of our Pacific neighbours,” he said.
Gina said he is sure this would not merely be a piece of meal gesture but be one that would allow us to move among the rest.
“Most of our traditional friends have been with us and have even fought on our shores, but there has been little that has happened soon after.
“Therefore I urge all of us to treat the move as a very positive one for the benefit of everyone,” he said.
A top government official based in Honiara supports the move by Western province.
He told the paper over the weekend that perhaps its time the country must go for a change.
The insider said its interesting to note how Taiwan was able to release SBD $24 million last week in light of the ongoing debate.
About $20 million has been allocated for the 50 constituencies which is about $400,000 per constituency.
The official claimed Taiwan was able to release the payment after a good number of Members of Parliament (MP) have vowed to support Taiwan.
“This shows how funding support from Taiwan and politics are at play in this current saga,” the top officer who declined to be named said.
The official who is well versed with the country’s economy warned; if the country wants to continue with its financial and economic struggles, then lets remain with Taiwan.
The official further explained China has alot to offer for Solomon Islands especially in the area of providing financial support to build infrastructure development which can help boost the economy of this country.
“If China comes in they would help the country to build our roads, wharves, bridges and airports as part of opening up areas to boost investment activities in parts of the country,” he said.
The government official admitted there are many funding support from China which comes as concessional loan or grant which Solomon Islands can chose from.
“Its the government that has to decide which types of loans or grant to access.
“What is important is for the country to properly manage the way it manages the repayment of its loans,” the official said.
The official said those countries which have problems with China in terms of repayment of loans are countries whose leaders misuse the funds.
However, there are success stories from countries around the world that have accessed loans and grants from China that are able to build new infrastructure to boost investment, he said.
“Given the rising population and high unemployment rate in the country, the government should start thinking about opening up new investment opportunities nationwide,” he said.
The official further claimed the majority of MPs who are supporting Taiwan are those who are benefiting so much from the funds over the years because they are able to control and spend the funds at their own wish and like.
“In the end there’s very little we have seen in terms of any new major infrastructure development supported by Taiwan here.
“So may be its time to look somewhere else for support if we want to see changes,” he said.
Its understood Cabinet and Caucus will discuss soon to decide on the matter.
Meanwhile, former MP and the country’s first envoy to Taiwan Seth Gukuna has warned the country about switching ties because there are associated risks to the move.
By TERENCE ZIRU