By Elaine Hou and Wang Cheng-chung

The Pacific island country of Fiji has closed its representative office in Taiwan to make better use of its resources and not because of pressure from China as one lawmaker claimed, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

Read more:
Why the Sky Did Not Fall after São Tomé and Príncipe Dropped Taiwan
Nigeria Orders Closure of Taiwan Office in Capital
Tsai’s Latin America Tour and the New Wildcard in Cross-Strait Relations

China Doubles Down on Pacific Fishery

The Fiji Trade and Tourism Representative Office in the Republic of China was shut down on May 10, after Karaisitiani Vuibau - Fiji's representative at the time - notified the ministry of Fiji's decision to end the office's operations in Taiwan, ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) told CNA.

Despite the closure of Fiji's office in Taiwan, Wang said, Taiwan's representative office in Fiji will continue to operate.

Fiji's move was made to reallocate the country's resources to better meet its needs, Wang said, but she stressed the unofficial bilateral ties between the two countries would not be affected by the move.

The issue of the closure of Fiji's representative office was brought to light by lawmaker Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) of the opposition Kuomintang during a legislative committee hearing earlier Wednesday.

Lu said she learned that one of the reasons behind the closure of the office was an attempt by China - which maintains diplomatic ties with Fiji - to suppress Taiwan amid strained cross-Taiwan Strait relations.

Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Chih-chung (吳志中) responded at the hearing that it was believed Fiji closed its office mainly due to its limited financial resources, forcing it to adjust the number of foreign missions it supports.

Wu said the ministry saw it as an isolated case that will not have a "domino effect."

According to Wang, the ministry provided administrative assistance to help Fiji officials close the office in Taiwan, and they, in turn, expressed their gratitude to the ministry for its efforts to help advance bilateral ties over the years.

Fiji set up its representative office in Taiwan in 1997, in an effort to advance bilateral trade, investment and tourism relations, after both countries signed a joint "mutual recognition" communique in 1996, according to the ministry.

Taiwan set up an ROC trade mission in Fiji in 1971, which was closed and replaced by the establishment of the East Asia Trade Center in 1976, one year after China and Fiji established diplomatic ties.

The East Asia Trade Center was renamed the Trade Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Republic of Fiji in 1988.

Republished with permission from CNA.