8 Nov 2002

PNG press says Taiwan trip leads to diplomatic row with China

4:22 pm on 8 November 2002

A three-way diplomatic row is brewing over the Papua New Guinea government's decision to take up an invitation by Taiwan for a PNG trade delegation to go to Taipei.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Allan Marat, is leading a delegation including several secretaries including a former foreign affairs secretary, Gabriel Dusava.

On the same flight manifest was East Sepik governor Arthur Somare but it was not clear if Mr Somare boarded the flight as the Chinese embassy raised concerns about him making the trip.

Taiwan and PNG are both full members of APEC, allowing both to trade freely while diplomatically PNG recognises China under its One China policy.

The Post Courier says the Chinese embassy is annoyed at the perception that Mr Somare, as son of the prime minister, should give the trade delegation weight by accompanying it to Taiwan, which China sees as a province.

There is also speculation that if a trade mission is establised in Taipei, Taiwan may want to upgrade its trade mission in Port Moresby to consular level.

This would be one step away from a full diplomatic mission, which would amount to recognising sovereignty.