27 Mar 2008

Taiwan policy change could harm Pacific allies, says expert

7:04 pm on 27 March 2008

An associate professor at University of Auckland says a promised policy change by Taiwan could harm Pacific Island countries linked to Taipei.

Bill Hodge says a pledge by Taiwan's president-elect Ma Ying-jeou to immediately end chequebook diplomacy could harm countries that rely on the money.

Australia's foreign minister Stephen Smith says chequebook diplomacy is not a sensible way to proceed, and Australia's position has been made clear to a number of governments.

Taiwan has diplomatic recognition from six Pacific countries which enjoy financial support from Taipei.

Recently, a former Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, claimed Taiwan had been bribing politicians in the South Pacific and undermined Australian efforts to try to clean-up corruption.