TAIWAN REBUFFS DIPLOMATIC BREAK WITH MARSHALLS

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, Dec. 5) – Donald Lee, director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of East Asia and Pacific Affairs stated during the Taiwan ministry's regular press conference, "We are fully aware of China's interference in the [Marshall Islands] election, which had a great impact on the results."

Although the ballot count has yet to be finalized, the opposition camp declared victory in the Marshall Islands election last week.

A change of government in the Marshall Islands would raise concerns over its continued diplomatic ties with Taiwan, as Marshall Islands Parliamentary Speaker Litokwa Tomeing has declared his intention of establishing relations with Beijing, China.

Taiwan's relations with the Marshall Islands will not be affected by the outcome of that country's parliamentary election, Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang said Tuesday.

He said that although China has attempted to manipulate the election outcome through Taiwanese business people, the solid diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the central Pacific nation would not be undermined.

He also said that China will never relax its relentless obstruction and will not "refrain from taking actions ahead of Taiwan's legislative and presidential elections or for any other reasons, "reaffirming that Taiwan must not harbor any false illusions about China.

His remarks came with the outcome of the Marshall Islands November national election due to be published either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning following the counting of overseas postal ballots.

The opposition party Aelon Kein Ad has claimed victory, although the ruling United Democratic Party also said that they could gain a majority in the 33-member legislature.

Any change of government would raise questions about the Marshall Islands' continued diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and the future of a U.S. missile-testing base on Kwajalein Atoll.

"We are ready, we have the numbers and we have the people's mandate," said Litokwa Tomeing, who the week before the election defected from President Kessai Note's party to join the Aelon Kein Ad (Our Islands) party.

Tomeing, who was speaker of the parliament in Note's government, has said the opposition would revert diplomatic recognition back to China after nine years of allegiance to Taiwan.

But other opposition leaders have attempted to downplay the possibility of a break with Taiwan this week. Tom Kijiner, expected to be the next foreign minister after unseating a minister in Note's government, said the party would have to meet to agree on its Taiwan stance.

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