When Solomon Islands set up a task force to consult neighbouring countries on their relations with China, Vanuatu was also included and for good reason.
Vanuatu not only enjoys a long-term relation with China but also had a brief diplomatic fling with Taiwan in 2004.
Between November and December 2004, both the flags of Taiwan and China were flying in Port Vila, one at an embassy, the other outside a hotel. This short-lived relation with Taiwan also resulted in a change in government for Vanuatu as a pro-China government was elected after a vote of no confidence.
In its fact-finding mission, the Solomon Islands task force consulted, between June and July this year, with not only Vanuatu but also Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.
Meanwhile, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Vanuatu posted on its website yesterday the remarks of China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Hua Chunying, commending the switch in relations by Solomon Islands.
Ms Hua said China highly commends the decision of the Solomon Islands’ government to recognize the one-China principle and sever diplomatic ties with the Taiwan authorities.
“We support the Solomon Islands in making such an important decision as a sovereign and independent country,” she said.
She stated that on the basis of the one-China principle, China has established official diplomatic relationships with 178 countries.
And the relations between China and Pacific island countries maintain a momentum for rapid development, Ms Hua said.
So far, according to media and social media reports, there have been mixed reactions by Solomon Islanders after Taiwan lowered its flag in Honiara to end a relationship that started in 1983, one year after Vanuatu established diplomatic relations with China.
The Solomon Star reports that 125 Solomon Islanders currently studying in Taiwan under fully funded Taiwanese scholarships are expected to be sent back home.
Even the United States of America officials had cautioned Solomon Islands about China’s funding promises, but Solomon Islands had made up its mind as China spreads its influence further across the Pacific.