27 Nov 2003

Kiribati parliament to test Two China policy

5:00 pm on 27 November 2003

The Kiribati government plans to have a public rally on Friday in support of its decision reached three weeks ago to open diplomatic links with Taiwan.

The rally is to coincide with a parliamentary debate on a motion to appoint a select committe to investigate claims of Taiwan's interference in the country's political affairs.

It also follows a rally on Monday by opposition supporters critical of the government for abandoning the One China policy and establishing additional ties with Taiwan.

A high placed government source says China is expected to decide whether to suspend or sever links once it is known whether a motion has been accepted by the Kiribati parliament to probe the new Taiwan links.

Meanwhile, China has again called on Kiribati to abandon diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Traditionally, China severs ties with governments which recognise Taipei because Beijing says such a step is in violation of the One China policy.

Reports say a satellite tracking station at the Chinese embassy in Tarawa is being dismantled but the political attache at the mission, Guo Dazhi, says the embassy is still open.

"The Chinese side will never tolerate the situation of two Chinas or one China, one Taiwan. So we'll surely give a timely response and if the Kiribati government still does not correct its decision, we will surely suspend the diplomatic ties between China and Kiribati."

Meanwhile, Radio Australia quotes the police commissioner, Tuare Ioane, as saying death threats against President Anote Tong are being investigated.

But he says there is no evidence to suggest the threats are linked to the diplomacy tussle.