27 Apr 2005

Reports of Marshall Islands leaders receiving payments from China

6:59 pm on 27 April 2005

There are reports that elected leaders in the Marshall Islands have been receiving payments from China in recent weeks, despite the country's near-seven year old ties with Taiwan.

The Marshall Islands Journal says the speculation follows an unsigned letter detailing amounts, names of certain individuals receiving and paying money, and the alleged reasons behind the payoffs.

The Journal says that sources linked to China made payments to many elected leaders of the United Democratic Party and other members of parliament since December.

The payments, which reportedly amounted to between 6 and 10 thousand US dollars each, were made to cultivate a return of ties to China.

But, several sources say that some of the ministers did not accept the cheques.

One cabinet minister stated that a few elected leaders who have accepted money and reportedly met Chinese officials while travelling, do not represent the Marshall Islands government.

He indicated that the Marshalls was solid in its relationship with Taiwan, whose President Chen Shui-bian is to visit Majuro next week.

According to a Journal source, one UDP-aligned senator was distributing cheques to other elected officials in Majuro last month.