TONGA'S PRINCESS EXPLAINS SWITCH TO DIPLOMATIC TIES WITH CHINA

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NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (December 31, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Tonga's Princess Pilolevu Tuita says the real reason that Tonga dropped diplomatic ties with Taiwan and switched to Beijing was to get Christian evangelists into China.

The princess made the claim in the latest issue of the monthly magazine, Matangi Tonga.

The princess, who is the only daughter of King Taufa'ahau Tupou the fourth, is also the majority owner of TongaSat, a company which controls access to Tonga's lucrative satellite orbit slots over Asia.

Her move to negotiate recognition of Beijing in October was criticized locally as being a way of improving the company's business prospects with China.

But the princess says China is not just a business destination.

She told the magazine she looked upon the new relationship as a means of spreading the Lord's word to China.

And she claims she's already making headway in China by getting people to say prayers at the beginning of every major meeting.

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