5 Jul 2006

Talk in Solomon Islands that the new Government might switch allegiance to China

6:10 pm on 5 July 2006

There is a rumoured split within the Solomon Islands government over whether to take up diplomatic ties with China.

A highly-placed government source says two partners in the coalition government are split over whether or not to maintain the existing foreign policy, which supports Taiwan.

The Solomon Social Credit party of Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare wants to maintain the support for Solomon Islands number one aid donor, Taiwan, while the National Party of former Prime Minister Francis Billy Hilly wants to switch support to mainland China.

The government is also said to be continuing its efforts to lure opposition MPs to join it with promises of chairmanship positions in state-owned enterprises and authorities and support for rural development projects in their constituencies.