Scoop Audio: Taiwanese Ambassador Chen Speaks About the Solomon Islands
Interview by Yasmine Ryan
From Assignment in Honiara
Scoop Audio: This interview with Antonio Chen, Taiwanese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, was conducted shortly after Manasseh
Sogavare suggested to the Associated Press that he may change the direction of the nation’s foreign policy. Sogavare
looks set to win Thursday’s vote and become the next Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands. He says a review of the link
with Taiwan will be held, which may lead to the Solomons focusing their diplomatic attention on Beijing instead. Up till
now, the Solomon Islands has been the largest of six Pacific nations which officially recognise Taiwan. In return, they
have received large amounts of aid. Some of this money has disappeared and allegations of ‘cheque-book diplomacy’ have
been circulating. Snyder Rini was forced to resign last Wednesday because of the alleged involvement of Taiwanese money
in his being elected to the position.
Chen was extremely agitated by these reports, and accused the journalist involved of asking ‘leading questions’. He
argues that the Solomon Islands know that Taiwan is a more reliable donor than mainland China: ‘We don’t need to worry
about who wins the election, because no matter who wins, I believe that relations will be maintained.’ He showed me the
Social Credit Party Manifesto, written by Sogavare, which commits to maintaining relations with the Republic of China.
The allegations of aid money going astray are, he insists, is a malicious rumour: ‘I condemn this pretend rumour because
this pretend rumour makes us in a very sensitive position, to be likely to be the target of attacks.’
The Ambassador further insisted that, as ‘we do not have many friends in the international community’, his nation
cherishes that ‘friendship’ with Taiwan.