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NEW ZEALAND: Goff Warns Pacific Nations On Chequebook Diplomacy

Saturday: December 10, 2005

The ongoing rivalry between China and Taiwan for recognition by Pacific countries is hindering the region's development, says Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Phil Goff, reports the New Zealand Weekend Herald.

He said the chequebook diplomacy exercised by both countries undermined other work to address serious issues like poverty.

The New Zealand Weekend Herald further reports that Goff made the comments in response to criticisms of New Zealand's foreign policy by a Taiwanese diplomat in Tuvalu.

Dr Feng Tai told the Weekend Herald that New Zealand enjoyed trade with Taiwan and should respect its right to establish diplomatic links with other countries. He said New Zealand and Australia treated the Pacific as their own "big garden".

Mr Goff said New Zealand was happy to trade with Taiwan but did not recognise it as the Government of China.

New Zealand, like 95 per cent of the rest of the world, had a one-China policy, he said.

The New Zealand Weekend Herald further reports that Mr Goff was not impressed with the way both China and Taiwan tried to shore up alliances with Pacific nations.

"What we have said to the Taiwanese and the Chinese is that we think their ongoing rivalry and chequebook diplomacy in the Pacific, wanting diplomatic recognition from these countries, is unhelpful for their developmental needs and the Pacific as a whole."

Mr Goff was not concerned that New Zealand might be left behind in a struggle for influence in the region.

"We don't regard ourselves as in competition with other countries ... we have no concern with China coming in and providing assistance, or for that matter Taiwan, but they should work within international standards for plainly transparent purposes."

The New Zealand Weekend Herald further reports that Mr Goff rejected as "unsubstantiated criticism" comments by University of South Pacific academic Dr Steven Ratuva that New Zealand was as guilty of ideological bribery as China and Taiwan.

Dr Ratuva said while aid from China and Taiwan was focused on politicians, that of New Zealand and Australia tended to be about sending in their own experts.

Mr Goff said New Zealand respected Pacific nations' sovereignty and did not try to influence them with aid, rather with diplomacy.

The New Zealand Weekend Herald further reports that Goff said 60 per cent of New Zealand's aid budget was targeted to the Pacific. "Our aid is about raising living standards and security in the region."

 

 

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