Reuters SYDNEY (Reuters) — The Solomon Islands intends to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan and align itself with Beijing, the leader of a high-level government team representing the South Pacific archipelago has said.
The switch, which still needs to be formalized, would be a prize for China in its bid to peel away allies from what it considers a wayward province with no right to state-to-state ties. Only 17 countries now recognize Taiwan.
Solomons lawmaker Peter Shanel Agovaka told a parliamentary committee that after four decades of independence and a long-term alliance with Taiwan, it was time to make a change.
“We cannot sit for the next 40 years with our friends Taiwan. It is time that we make new friends — it’s time that we should move on with our life,” Agovaka said on Wednesday, according to a recording of the meeting in the capital Honiara.
“Our new relationship will deal with a One China policy; a One China policy that recognizes only Beijing as the official government administration,” he said in the recording, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.
Agovaka is a senior minister and leader of a government team convened recently to speak directly with Beijing.
The government is waiting for a task force report on the issue before it formally decides on a switch to Beijing.
China and Taiwan have fought a tug-of-war for diplomatic recognition in the South Pacific for decades, with some island nations switching allegiances for financial gain.
The South Pacific has been a diplomatic stronghold for Taiwan, where formal ties with six of the 16 island nations make up more than a third of its total alliances. Solomon Islands has been assessing its Taiwan alliance since new Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare took control after a general election in April and started looking for ways to improve the country’s economic prospects.Speech