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Monday, February 12, 2007

Alfred Sasako assures China that PINA will stay neutral despite Taiwan funding of Solomons conference

The Pacific Islands News Association, commonly referred to as PINA will do well to stay clear of the political wrangling between China and Taiwan, the head of the Media Association of Solomon Islands (MASI) secretariat Alfred Sasako said yesterday.

He said the media fraternity must ensure its convention was not overshadowed by interests other than the over-reaching interest to promote and preserve media freedom in the region.

Mr Sasako, a former media adviser to the Pacific Islands forum secretariat, was reacting to a report by the PNG National Newspaper last week on China’s protest over Taiwan’s involvement in this year’s PINA biennial convention in Honiara.

A spokesman from the Chinese embassy in Port Moresby warned last week that journalists of the Pacific Islands states must not be politicised or influenced by Taiwan. The embassy has protested Taiwan’s move to donate US$65,000 to the MASI secretariat for the conference.

However, Mr Sasako said PINA had benefited from funding by both Taiwan and mainland China in the past. He said it was normal for a foreign government to assist a PINA convention with funds.

Mr Sasako added that Taiwan’s funding was merely to help strengthen MASI’s capacity to host the convention in May.

“In other words, Taiwan funding support helped MASI set up a secretariat to coordinate pre-PINA workshops and the PINA convention, given that PINA does not have a functioning secretariat in Suva,” Mr Sasako said.

Mr Sasako said this year, the European Union through Solomon Islands’ technical co-operation facility gave funding assistance to train Pacific Island journalists in pre-PINA workshops in Honiara.

Source: PNG National

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