Taiwan says 'insensitive' China playing politics with Papua New Guinea move soon after quake

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan has accused China of insensitivity by announcing that Papua New Guinea had downgraded its relations with the self-ruled island while Taiwan was still dealing with the aftermath of a deadly earthquake.

China has become increasingly hostile towards Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as its own, since the election in 2016 of Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, and has increased diplomatic pressure.

In a statement late on Monday, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said China had forced Papua New Guinea to change the name of Taipei's representative office in the country and remove diplomatic license plates from diplomats' cars.

Papua New Guinea had "bent to pressure from mainland China", the ministry said.

Taiwan and Papua New Guinea do not have formal diplomatic relations, but Taiwan opened a trade office there in 1990.

China's Foreign Ministry, in a statement late on Sunday, noted the name of Taiwan's PNG office had been changed to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Papua New Guinea, and said it appreciated the move.

That China had chosen to announce Papua New Guinea's decision was hurtful while Taiwan dealing was with the aftermath of an earthquake on the eastern part of the island in which at least 17 people died, Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said.

"This has hurt the feelings of our people, and even caused a backlash. We feel this is deeply regrettable."

A Papua New Guinea government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to visit PNG later this year as it is this year's host for the APEC summit of Asia-Pacific leaders.

"PNG is heavily reliant on Chinese foreign aid. The government has been forced to dramatically cut government expenditure as the budget deficit soars. While that has happened, many of the new infrastructure projects seem to have Chinese backing," a former Papua New Guinea treasury advisor told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Chinese aid to Papua New Guinea has grown significantly, the Lowy Institute, an Australia think-tank said earlier this year. Lowy estimates PNG is the largest recipient of Chinese aid in the Pacific, receiving some $632 million since 2006.

The rise of China in the Pacific has stoked tensions with Australia, which has historically enjoyed a dominant influence in the region. In January, Australia accused China of trying to carry favor in the Pacific by providing capital for little-used infrastructure projects, a claim that quickly drew criticism from Beijing.

Taiwan complained last year that China was putting pressure on other countries to force them to change the names of Taiwan's representative offices.

(Reporting by Jess Macy Yu; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and Colin Packham in Sydney)

Related News

Australia, France and U.S. progress in Davis Cup

Feb 5, 2017

US-TENNIS-DAVIS:Australia, France and U.S. progress in Davis Cup

National Australia Bank first quarter earnings...

Feb 6, 2017

US-NAB-RESULTS:National Australia Bank first quarter earnings fall 1 percent as costs rise

Yen holds gains, European political risks...

Feb 7, 2017

US-GLOBAL-FOREX:Yen holds gains, European political risks generate safe-haven demand

Australia job adverts bounce back in January: ANZ

Feb 6, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-ECONOMY-VACANCIES:Australia job adverts bounce back in January: ANZ

Wanted: high-tech grads to work with Aussie...

Feb 6, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-AGRICULTURE-TECH:Wanted: high-tech grads to work with Aussie farmers

7 percent of Australian Catholic priests accused...

Feb 6, 2017

Officials investigating the abuse of children at institutions across Australia have revealed that...

You may also like these

Yen holds gains, European political risks...

Feb 7, 2017

US-GLOBAL-FOREX:Yen holds gains, European political risks generate safe-haven demand

Australian PM under threat from party split as...

Feb 6, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-POLITICS:Australian PM under threat from party split as shift to the right grows

Philippines 'unfit for mining' because of...

Feb 6, 2017

US-PHILIPPINES-MINING:Philippines 'unfit for mining' because of nation’s unique ecosystem:...

Australian security law watchdog urges scrapping...

Feb 8, 2017

US-AUSTRALIA-SECURITY:Australian security law watchdog urges scrapping of indefinite detention

Cambodia opposition leader Rainsy resigns from...

Feb 11, 2017

US-CAMBODIA-POLITICS:Cambodia opposition leader Rainsy resigns from party

About Us

The Morning Herald is a fast news provider in the United States since 2005. Fiercely independent and armed with irreverent intelligence, there’s no other place to get your news other than The Morning Herald.

Contact us: sales@themorningherald.com

Subscribe Now!