7 Jul 2010

Taiwan link issue divides Solomos leaders as polls loom

6:41 pm on 7 July 2010

Political parties in Solomon Islands are taking differing positions on whether the country should cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Last week, the caretaker finance minister Francis Billy Hilly said if his National Party came to power in the election, it would sever ties with Taiwan and establish diplomatic ties with China, which is investing heavily in Solomon Islands.

But Matthew Wale, the spokesman for the Solomon Islands Democratic Party, says his party favours establishing a trade relationship with China while retaining diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Mr Wale says Taiwan's relationship with Solomon Islands has been controversial because of the way it distributes development funds through MPs.

"So we want to take those funds away from members of parliament so such development resources are used more effectively, but that they are managed more accountably as well."

Matthew Wale says his party is proposing development funds be administered by a government ministry.