Taiwan’s president scheduled to visit Solomon Islands in July
TAIWAN’S President Tsai Ing-wen is due to visit Solomon Islands next month in an effort to reassure its diplomatic allies in the South Pacific of Taiwan’s support.
Published reports say the July visit is her third state visit since taking office in May last year, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). No date in July has been confirmed for the President’s visit.
Except for its Vice President, no Taiwanese President has ever visited Solomon Islands in the past.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Paul Chang (章文樑) said at a Legislative Yuan interpellation session on June 1 that the president is scheduling a tour to South Pacific to visit the nation’s allies in the region.
The visit will include Solomon Islands. It will also take in the Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu, and Kiribati in Central Pacific – the island nations which recognise Taiwan diplomatically.
Tsai embarked on her first overseas trip as President to Latin American nations of Panama and Paraguay as the nation’s president in June last year, to attend a ceremony marking the completion of the expansion of the Panama Canal as well as to boost Latin American ties.
In Panama, she held talks with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Valera and met with Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes during that visit.
In January this year, Tsai completed her second tour of Latin America, visiting four diplomatic allies: Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Published reports say the visits served to reaffirm Taiwan’s bonds with its allies in the Latin American region, while the president’s upcoming overseas trip to the Central and South Pacific is also considered important as the nation has six diplomatic allies in the region.
The Pacific island countries make up a significant bloc of the 21 countries worldwide which recognise Taiwan.
Earlier this month the Fiji government closed its trade office in Taipei.
The office was seen as a de facto embassy for Fiji which along with most Pacific island countries recognises China.
Taiwan enjoys diplomatic relations with a total of 21 countries worldwide, including 10 Latin American countries, the Holy See, the African countries of Burkina Faso and Swaziland, and six Pacific Island countries.
Attendance at the President’s July visit to Solomon Islands is expected to be strictly by invitation only in line with new restrictions being imposed by Taiwan on who attends it official functions.
Earlier this year, Taiwan’s Embassy in Honiara informed the Solomon Islands-Chinese Association that no Chinese nationals with mainland China’s passports are allowed to attend its functions.
Taiwan provides more than SBD100 million in bilateral annual budgetary support to Solomon Islands in return for USD2 billion of tuna it takes out of Solomon Islands’ waters.
In January this year, Taipei was approached about supporting the Solomon Islands’ in meeting the cost of sporting facilities for the 2023 South Pacific Games.
Taiwan has not given a definite answer although it indicated a willingness to support the $271 million project.