Both China and Taiwan offered bribes: Solomon Islands official . . .
Several politicians from the Solomon Islands have come forward to accuse both China and Taiwan of trying to bribe them into supporting their case for diplomatic recognition. The Solomon Islands, located near Papua New Guinea and with fewer than one million people, has been a battleground for Beijing and Taipei’s competition. In September, the country formally established relations with Beijing, cutting its ties with Taiwan after 46 years. Just two weeks later, Kiribati, another Pacific island nation, made the same decision to abandon Taiwan.
Taiwan losing ground . . .
Wooing the Solomon Islands came at a steep cost. Previously, Taiwan provided a US$8.5-million development fund to the island nation. And at the time the Solomon Islands switched its recognition to Beijing, China signed a US$825-million mining investment agreement, according to a report in the New York Times. Since 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen became Taiwan’s president, seven countries have shifted their diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. Currently, of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic partners, 14 are Pacific, Caribbean, or Central American nations. (The other is Vatican City.)
The impacts of money diplomacy . . .
Taipei has rejected the accusations of bribery, while Beijing has not yet responded to the allegations. Whether the bribes were offered or not, China and Taiwan should be cautious about their “money diplomacy,” which makes the small and relatively poor island nations more vulnerable to domestic corruption. For example, the amount of China’s mining investment is equal to 63 per cent of the Solomons’ GDP in 2018. In 2018, a Transparency International report ranked Solomon Islands as “very corrupt” and its natural resource industries exhibit one of the highest risks to corruption.
- The Guardian: China and Taiwan offered us huge bribes, say Solomon Islands MPs
- SINA News (in Chinese): 中国中铁公告,中标约8.25亿美元的所罗门金岭金矿项目承包工程
- The Diplomat: China’s Pacific challenge