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Solomon Islands

China denies bribing Solomon Islands premier

The premier of Malaita Province in Solomon Islands, Daniel Suidani still maintains his stand that he was offered a bribe to support China when he was first elected in 2019.

This was despite the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) Embassy in Honiara denying the allegation and accusing Mr Suidani of not abiding by the One China policy.

Suidani came into power during the intensive political drama in the country after the National Government made a diplomatic switch from Taiwan to China on September 20, 2019.

The switch has ended Solomon Islands 36 years relationship with Taiwan.

Malaita province is one of the populated provinces with 160,583 people. Mr Suidani revealed the bribery ‘secret’ to Sky News Australia host Sharri Markson after a successful brain operation by doctors at the Taiwan University hospital in Taipei recently.

“At the time being the representative of my people in my province, I decided not to take the bribe because I am just a representative. I will always get back to my people. And I will always do what my people like in terms of leading the people as a Premier of Malaita Province,” he said.

However, China’s Embassy in Honiara has rebuffed the allegation.

“Such allegations are defamatory and fabricated,” Spokesperson Han Chen said.

“In September 2019, China and Solomon Islands established diplomatic relationships on the basis of One China principle.

“The bilateral cooperation between the two countries has since delivered fruitful outcomes in various areas, bringing tangible benefits to Solomon Islands people and (it) received a warm welcome,” Chen said.

He said the One China principle is the universally recognized norm of international relations and has broad consensus across the international community.

“Any attempts to smear China and disrupt China-Solomon Islands relations are futile and doomed to failure,” he said.

Further to that, Chen said China firmly opposes any official contact between Taiwan and officials from countries having diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

“Any responsible politicians should recognise mainstream trends, stand on the right side of history and avoid being politically manipulated by anti-China forces,” he added.

However, Premier Suidani believes China has influenced Solomon Islands’ politicians with ‘bribes’ to cut the long-term relationship with its ally, Taiwan.

“In terms of the switch from ROC (Taiwan) to PRC (China), what happens is not clear. But I believe there is something going on between PRC and the Solomon Islands Government that makes them switch without consulting with the people.

“There are speculations and suggestions that there’s something going on between the two in terms of the switch,” he told Sky News.

Suidani’s firm stand was met with strong opposition from the Government which, according to claims, refused to fully fund his trip to undergo medical treatment in Australia.

The Government however, has denied the allegation claiming they fully funded his trip to total of AU$121,663.00 (approximately SB$729,423.00) for his medical bill to Mater Hospital in Brisbane, excluding travel and accommodation expenses.

The Solomon Islands Government has also been accused of halting medical equipment sent by the Taiwan Government to Malaita Province to combat the spread of covid-19.

According to ABC, Solomon Islands’ police seized the medical equipment in June 2020 on suspicion of fraud and subversive activity, after it was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Honiara through diplomatic mail and addressed to a private individual.

However, Mr Suidani believes China is influencing the Government’s decision to stop the medical equipment to Malaita.

He believes China’s influence also impacts the vaccination roll out because of the alleged bribing of politicians.

“For myself for being a new political leader and first time in the government, the information of knowing people that might have (been) lured by bribes for other things like vaccines, that is something that I don’t know.

“But I suggest that most of the leaders who have not been standing strong for their people and their regions must have been offered (similar) kind of offers.

He told Sky News that leaders should consult with their people.

Despite the cross-strait tensions between Taiwan and China that continue due to the One China Policy, Mr Suidani still remains loyal to Taiwan because of its strong beliefs in democratic principles.

“I want to thank the President of Taiwan for ensuring I am able to go to Taiwan for this very important medical treatment.

“This is a very big thing for me, my family and especially provincial government and people of Malaita province for this genuine help.”

Mr Suidani said it is clear that Taiwan continues to help and be generous.

Suidani said he believes Taiwan shares the same values and principles as people in the Solomon Islands.

“So, Solomon Islands and Malaita for that matter is holding up the democratic values. I believe Taiwan is also respecting those values and principles we are standing for,” he said.

Mr Suidani is expected back in the country soon and will continue his leadership for the next two years.

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