China, Taiwan trade barbs over Fiji ‘scuffle’

Updated 20 Oct 2020

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A military honour guard holds a Taiwanese national flag as he attending flag-raising ceremony at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, in Taipei, Taiwan March 16, 2018. — Reuters/File
A military honour guard holds a Taiwanese national flag as he attending flag-raising ceremony at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, in Taipei, Taiwan March 16, 2018. — Reuters/File

TAIPEI: A physical clash between Taiwan and Chinese officials at a diplomatic reception in Fiji left the rival powers trading allegations of assault on Monday.

Taipei accused two Chinese officials of gatecrashing an event at the luxurious Grand Pacific Hotel in the Fijian capital Suva on October 8 and assaulting an employee.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said its trade office — the equivalent of an embassy — was hosting a party for 100 distinguished guests to celebrate Taiwan’s National Day.

They claim the two Chinese officials began taking pictures of guests and when asked to leave assaulted an official, putting him in hospital.

“We strongly condemn the actions by the Chinese embassy in Fiji staff for seriously violating the rule of law and civilised code of conduct,” Taiwan foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said.

The Chinese embassy in Fiji confirmed its officials were in “public area outside the function venue” on unspecified “official duties” on the day of the incident. But the Chinese embassy claimed the Taiwanese mission’s staff “acted provocatively” and caused “injuries and damage to one Chinese diplomat”.

In its statement, Taipei said the Chinese diplomats were taken away by the police and “falsely claimed” that they had been attacked.

Both sides said they had asked the Fijian police and other island authorities to investigate.

A Fiji police spokeswoman said the probe was ongoing and its officers were working on the issue with the Pacific nation’s foreign affairs ministry. She declined to provide further details.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2020