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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Taiwan strongly refutes alleged involvement in no-confidence vote

By George Herming

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refuted a foreign media report alleging Taiwan’s involvement in funding Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to defeat last week’s parliamentary no-confidence vote.

Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald carried an article claiming "funds sourced from the Taiwanese government" had assisted Mr Sogavare in surviving the no-confidence motion. The article further claimed that “opposition MPs alleged during the parliamentary debate that Asian logging company money had also been distributed to distort the political process”.

A separate article carried by the same edition said “there have been unconfirmed reports that Taiwanese funds could have been used to finance an ultimately aborted charter flight to airlift Julian Moti to avoid extradition from neighbouring Papua New Guinea”.

However, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Michel Lu said in a Taipei Times article that it was unfair for some foreign media to run stories that damage the nation's reputation without verifying with the Taiwanese government and identifying its sources.

“Perhaps they just lack understanding about Taiwan or are prejudiced against Taiwan. But Taiwan will still work on cooperating with our allies in the right direction,” the Taipei Times quoted Mr Lu as saying.

Taiwan has been interacting with its allies based on concrete bilateral cooperative plans and has never been involved in other countries' internal affairs, Lu said.

“When it comes to diplomatic cooperation, Taiwan will not fund any individual and will not seek to influence the internal affairs of our allies,” he added.

“Taiwan pushes its diplomatic relations with other nations pragmatically and those accusations that hint Taiwan abused chequebook diplomacy are totally outdated and groundless,” Lu said.

Taiwan is helping Solomon Islands in many aspects since both countries established diplomatic ties 23 years ago. Bigger countries like Australia and New Zealand remained suspicious of Taiwan’s aid assistance to Solomon Islands. However, both countries failed to provide concrete evidence to support their accusations over Taiwan’s alleged “chequebook” diplomacy.

Solomon Islands is one of Taiwan’s solid supporters in its bid for independence from communist China.

Source: Government Communications Unit

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