KIRIBATI DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST TAIWAN TIES

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 25) - Several hundred protestors on Monday demonstrated in the Kiribati capital of Tarawa against the Tong Government's decision to switch diplomatic allegiances from China to Taiwan.

But a leading political figure in Kiribati says the Pacific nation will not change its decision to diplomatically recognize Taiwan over China.

The new government of President Anote Tong recently announced the switch from Beijing to Taipei, saying Taiwan had offered Kiribati more funds for development.

The decision is a concern for Beijing as Kiribati hosts a Chinese space tracking facility that played an important role in China's recent manned space flight.

The founding president of Kiribati, Ieremia Tabai, an ally of Mr Tong's, says he expects China will shortly quit Kiribati and will probably dismantle the satellite base, which was established under a deal between the two countries in 1997.

The state-run Radio Kiribati reported several hundred people gathered outside the parliament in the capital, Karawa, on Monday to protest against the decision to switch allegiances.

The Taiwanese last week sent their first representative to establish their diplomatic mission in Tarawa.

November 25, 2003

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

 

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