Taiwan denounces mainland China for ‘brutal and irrational actions’ after spat in Fiji ends with worker in hospital

21-Oct-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Taipei and Beijing have accused each other of assaulting their government representatives in Fiji, in a further rise in tension following an altercation at an event in the South Pacific country this month celebrating Taiwan’s national holiday.

Harry Tseng Ho-jen, Taiwan’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, told the Legislative Yuan on Monday that two members of China’s embassy in Fiji had tried on October 8 to forcibly enter a reception held by the Taiwanese representative office in Fiji’s capital Suva, and take photos of attendees.

The mainland diplomats clashed physically with a Taiwanese staffer at the Grand Pacific Hotel event who tried to stop them and was later treated in hospital for concussion, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

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Tseng said the mainland diplomats had been taken away from the scene by local police. He said that the Taiwanese representative office had reported the incident to Fiji’s foreign ministry and police but said it might be processed more slowly because the two governments did not have formal diplomatic relations, and noted that the Fiji government was “under a lot of political pressure”.

Tseng accused China of carrying out “brutal and irrational actions to damage peace and rationality” and said Taiwan’s foreign ministry had urged its representative offices around the world to be alert to “increasingly aggressive” behaviour by Chinese diplomats. Asked whether similar events had occurred in the past, Tseng said it had “never been so serious”.

Meanwhile, China’s embassy in Fiji said in a statement on Monday afternoon that the event to mark the Double Tenth holiday, which commemorates the foundation of the Republic of China, had violated the one-China principle in an attempt to “create ‘two Chinas’ or ‘one China, one Taiwan internationally’ “.

The statement also offered an alternative version of events.

“On that very evening, the staff of the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji acted provocatively against the Chinese embassy staff who were carrying out their official duties in the public area outside the function venue, causing injuries and damage to one Chinese diplomat,” it said.

“China highly appreciates the Fijian government for upholding [the] one-China principle and expects that the Fijian side will tackle this issue properly.”

Beijing claims the self-ruled island of Taiwan as its own territory, and has ramped up its threats to bring Taiwan under its fold, by force if necessary. In recent years, China has been increasingly aggressive in what has been termed Wolf Warrior diplomacy against any insinuation internationally that Taiwan is an independent country, including by pressuring Fiji to rename the Taiwanese representative office in the country the “Taipei Trade Office” rather than the “Trade Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan)”.

The incident in Fiji came to light after a report was published in a New Zealand outlet affiliated with the Auckland University of Technology’s journalism school stating that details of the alleged assault had been “hushed up”. It said Fiji had the power to ask the two Chinese diplomats to leave the country if it chose to.

A report by another news outlet, the Fijivillage website, said police were investigating the complaint by the Chinese embassy in Fiji alleging that embassy staff had been assaulted by a worker from the Taipei Trade Office at the October 8 event.

The Fiji police and the Fiji foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Joanne Ou, a spokeswoman for Taiwan’s foreign ministry, told reporters on Monday that the Chinese embassy’s claims that the Taiwanese representative had attacked their staffers was “an attempt to reverse the truth and mislead the public”.

“The foreign ministry strongly condemns the diplomats from the Chinese embassy in Fiji for their actions that have seriously violated rule of law and civility,” she said.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, told a regular briefing that the event “openly hung a fake flag [the Taiwanese one] and had a cake with a fake flag image on it”, actions which “seriously violated the one-China principle”.

“The Chinese embassy in Fiji also expressed that there were serious deficiencies on the Fijian side and have asked the Fijian side to investigate and hold the Taiwanese staffer accountable according to the law,” he said.



Category: Taiwan

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