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Solomon Islands forms task force to shift ties from Taiwan to China

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. (File photo)

Taiwan is expected to lose yet another ally on the international stage as the Solomon Islands considers developing ties with China, in a move which will leave the self-ruled island with only sixteen allies across the world.

On Monday the chief of a parliamentary panel said that a team, consisting of eight ministers and the prime minister’s private secretary, has been formed to evaluate relations with Taiwan.

The task force, which returned from a tour of Pacific nations allied to China just before a mid-August visit to Beijing, will present its recommendations as early as this week, according to parliamentary schedules.

 “There’s a certain thinking with the current government and executive to switch,” Peter Kenilorea, an opposition lawmaker who chairs a foreign relations parliamentary committee, told Reuters.

 “The amount of money that has already been spent by the government on this is quite telling,” he said. “It doesn’t take much imagination to work out what the task force will recommend.”

According to a government lawmaker, both the task force and panel of ministers were clearly leaning toward Beijing.

Taiwan has been losing allies, one after another, since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. Last year, El Salvador in Central America, along with Burkina Faso in West Africa and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean, severed ties with the government of Tsai in favor of China.

China has sovereignty over the island and almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty under the policy known as One China.

Tsai blames China for losing allies, citing this as further evidence of Beijing’s efforts to squeeze Taipei.

Taiwan claims that China “buys off” Taipei’s increasingly dwindling diplomatic partners with generous aid packages.

China, however, denies such allegations, saying Taiwan is historically part of its territory, with no right to formal diplomatic ties of its own with other countries.

Students boycott school on first day of school in Hong Kong

China is also engaged in another issue with its territory of Hong Kong, which has been plagued with weeks of protests against a proposed bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited and stand trial in mainland China.

Protesters attend a rally at Tamar Park in Hong Kong on September 2, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Hong Kong, another Chinese territory, has been a scene of violent protests over the recent weeks, with protesters taking to the streets in Hong Kong as a series of rallies against a proposed bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited and stand trial in mainland China.

While the bill has been scrapped, protests have continued and morphed into riots.

On Monday, thousands of university and school students boycotted classes for demonstrations.

On the first day of the new school year, students, some of them wearing hard hats and masks, were seen singing, chanting and forming human chains.

The boycott follows a weekend marred by some of the worst violence since the unrest escalated more than three months ago.

Rioters engaged in fierce confrontations with security forces in the suburb of Tsuen Wan on Sunday. They hurled Molotov cocktails and bricks, and in one instance, they cornered a group of officers and attacked them with their own weapons, according to police.

 The following day, the governor of Hong Kong warned that her government has zero tolerance for violence. China has also repeatedly warned against violence.

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