24 Mar 2004

Taiwan protest reported to have ended planned Hong Kong tour by Solomons officials

3:15 pm on 24 March 2004

There are reports from Solomon Islands that a planned tour of Hong Kong earlier next month by a group of Government officials has been put on hold after a protest from Taiwan.

Solomon Islands is one of several Pacific backers of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

Taiwan is Solomon Islands largest bilateral aid donor.

Radio New Zealand International understands that the Taiwan Embassy in Honiara conveyed Taipei's anger at the planned trip to China.

The tour party was to include officials from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Trade, Fisheries, and Forestry along with media.

Three years ago relations between Taiwan and Solomon Islands soured when former Foreign Minister Danny Philip tried to make a secret trip to China to try and secure aid assistance from Beijing.