20 Sep 2019

Solomons province to survey independence appetite after China switch

10:26 am on 20 September 2019

The premier of Solomon Islands' largest province says he will push for independence to maintain ties with Taiwan if there is public backing.

A village on the beach near Auki, the capital of Malaita. Aug 2015 via wiki commons

A village on the beach near Auki, the capital of Malaita. Photo: Supplied

Daniel Suidani said the people of Malaita were worried about what the country's impending diplomatic switch to China would mean for the province.

On Monday, Taiwan ended a 36-year relationship with Solomon Islands after Honiara endorsed a report to recognise China instead.

But a people's resolution has been circulating in Malaita calling for independence.

The provincial government is meeting today to discuss a way forward, Mr Suidani said.

"The Chinese government, when they give money to countries it becomes a loan," he said.

"So, that makes the people of Malaita very frightened. But with Taiwan, for the last 20 to 30 years, they help us in giving us money for development through grants."

Officials will survey public opinion on independence, Mr Suidani said, adding that he hoped the central government would instead promote development in his province to ease tensions.

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