6 Apr 2006

Inter-China bidding for regional suppport a possible Forum issue - NZ minister

1:24 pm on 6 April 2006

A New Zealand government minister, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, says rivalry between China and Taiwan may be discussed at the next meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Tonga.

Luamanuvao, who is the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, represented New Zealand at the meeting in Fiji where China hosted the eight Pacific Island countries with diplomatic ties with Beijing.

The eight have been promised 370 million US dollars in Chinese aid over three years in a policy that excludes the six regional countries that have links with Taiwan.

Luamanuvao says the split goes against a Forum desire to work together.

"We've always prided ourselves on working together and being a strong little group, diverse but complex, but of course you have a situation with six of the Forum countries supporting Taiwan and the other eight with China. I think that issue is concerning people but maybe they need to talk about that at the next Forum in Tonga."

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban.

Australia and New Zealand have diplomatic links with China.