5 Sep 2006

Taiwan pledges millions of US dollars in aid for Pacific countries

9:55 am on 5 September 2006

Taiwan has pledged millions of US dollars in aid and promised other assistance to Pacific countries that recognise Taipei.

The pledges were made in Palau where the Taiwanese President, Chen Shui-bian, held a summit with the six countries linked to Taiwan.

A spokesman for the Solomon Islands government says it has been offered about 10 million for projects that could help cover improved inter-island air transit links.

President Chen has promised the Marshall Islands another three million dollars in equipment for a solar energy project.

In an unstated quid pro quo, officials from the Pacific nations say they will back Taiwan's bid for United Nations and World Health Organisation membership, which China opposes.

In April, China held a summit with Pacific countries that recognise Beijing and offered hundreds of millions of dollars in support over the next three years.

Last month, New Zealand strongly criticised Taiwan for its alleged cheque book diplomacy and claimed it was irrefutable that Taiwan was involved in the unrest in Solomon Islands last April.