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    Monday, October 14, 2019-12:40:23A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Marshall Islands parliament rallies to back Taiwan

MAJURO — The day after the Solomon Islands rocked the Pacific region this week by switching diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China, the Marshall Islands Nitijela or parliament unanimously adopted a three-page resolution recognizing over 20 years of Marshall Islands-Taiwan ties.

After debating a diplomatic switch for months, the Solomon Islands on Monday became the first of the six Pacific island nations with ties to Taiwan to change relations to the People’s Republic of China. This reduces the number of nations globally that recognize Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China, to 16.

Since 2016, the PRC has ramped up a campaign to isolate the ROC internationally, with six countries during the past three years switching ties to PRC and agreeing to abide by the PRC’s “one China” policy. The Solomons had been a diplomatic partner with Taiwan for 36 years. The Marshall Islands along with Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu and Kiribati continue to recognize Taiwan diplomatically.

The resolution adopted on Tuesday by the Marshall Islands Nitijela was introduced by both government and opposition senators, indicating the broad-based support for ties with Taiwan in the Marshall Islands.

Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine, fourth left, and Taiwan Ambassador Jeffery Hsiao, second left, join Ministry of Health staff and newly graduated doctors from Taiwan’s I-Shou Medical University at a recent recognition event in Majuro.  Photo by Hilary HosiaMarshall Islands President Hilda Heine, fourth left, and Taiwan Ambassador Jeffery Hsiao, second left, join Ministry of Health staff and newly graduated doctors from Taiwan’s I-Shou Medical University at a recent recognition event in Majuro. Photo by Hilary Hosia

The resolution confirmed RMI’s “profound appreciation for the consistently staunch support of the People and Government of Republic of China (Taiwan) as a true friend and ally to the Republic of the Marshall Islands.”

The resolution noted Taiwan’s “unwavering commitment to promoting freedom, democracy and human rights” and its impressive range of assistance — financial, technical, training and scholarships — aimed at developing the Marshall Islands.

The resolution also said the Marshall Islands urges the United Nations to take “immediate action to resolve the inappropriate exclusion of Taiwan’s 23 million people from the U.N. system, cancel the U.N.’s discriminatory policy against Taiwanese passports holders and journalists, and ensure that Taiwan has the right to participate in an equal and dignified manner in meetings, mechanisms, and activities related to the implementation of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.”

The resolution also supports Taiwan’s efforts for “substantive participation” in various international organizations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization and Interpol, the international police agency.

Over recent weeks, while debate about Taiwan ties has been simmering in the Solomon Islands, Taiwan ramped up its people-to-people engagements with the Marshall Islands.

In addition to the recent addition of a dozen university scholarships for Marshall Islands students, who join over two dozen ongoing scholarship university students in Taiwan, visits by Taiwanese officials have increased.

Last month saw a visit by a trade delegation of business representatives from Taiwan. This month will see a visit by an Aboriginal dance performance group that is expected to perform in Majuro. In addition, the Taiwan Embassy has scheduled follow up development-related visits to the Marshall Islands by agriculture and other development experts in the coming weeks.