Solomons PM Acknowledges Rising Influence Of

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Lilo: shift of global power towards China ‘inevitable’

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 29, 2013) – Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo says his country can't ignore China's rise, despite its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.

The Solomon Islands is one of only 22 nations around the world that recognize Taiwan rather than China, and is by far the biggest Pacific nation to do so.

As a result of changes in global markets, Solomon Islands now sends more than 50 percent of its exports to China.

Mr. Lilo has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the shifting global balance of power towards China is inevitable and must be factored into the Solomon's trade and foreign relations.

"Within the South, as you know, China will remain the major market," Mr. Lilo said.

"That inevitability cannot be eliminated from the equation of the way that we manage our international relations, international economy, international trade and even our foreign policy.

"It may be an issue that will be left as a silent issue in terms of our diplomacy but it is an active trade matter in relations."

Mr. Lilo believes advancing trade and investment is as important as honoring diplomacy.

"In diplomacy, you have to respect diplomacy first, but at the same time you have to give due respect also to trade and investment," he said.

"And at the same time you have to understand that Solomon Islands is a member of the South-South co-operation, the group of 77 plus China."

Mr. Lilo hopes there will be better trading opportunities for Solomon Islands with both countries in the years to come.

"Opportunities will come about, as the opening of better relations will move to the more dynamic way of encompassing engagements other than just political issues, [such as] trade and economy."

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