The alleged incident took place on Taiwan’s National Day on October 8 at Taiwan’s representative office in Fiji’s capital city of Suva.
In another move certain to escalate tensions between China and Taiwan, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry alleged on Monday, October 19, that a Taiwanese official had been assaulted by two Chinese diplomats at an event in Fiji earlier this month.
China claimed that its officials had also been injured in the alleged scuffle.
The incident reportedly took place on Taiwan’s National Day on October 8 at the Taiwanese official’s office in Suva, the capital of Fiji.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry accused two Chinese diplomats of sneaking into the national day celebrations hosted by Taiwan’s trade office and de facto embassy in Fiji. Around 100 guests were present at the celebration, held at the luxurious Grand Pacific Hotel. Beijing has denied the allegation.
The Ministry said that the diplomats tried to take pictures and get information about the guests. They then attacked a Taiwanese official who asked them to leave. The official reportedly suffered a head injury and was taken to a hospital.
“We strongly condemn the actions by the Chinese embassy in Fiji staff for seriously violating the rule of law and civilized code of conduct,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said.
The two Chinese officials became “violent when dissuaded by our staff, causing head injuries to our (official) who was later sent to hospital,” Ou told CNN.
Ou added that the two Chinese officials were “forcibly taken away from the scene by the Fiji police.”
Taiwan also alleged that the Chinese diplomats “falsely claimed” that the Taiwanese officials present at the event had assaulted them and said that it had raised the issue with the Chinese embassy in Fiji and Fiji’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry stated that it had directed the injured official to go to the Fijian police and Fiji’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs with witness testimony and physical evidence to “ensure a correct understanding of the situation.”
There are no formal diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Fiji. The two sides connect informally through Taipei’s representative office in Suva. In 1975, Fiji became the first Pacific nation to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing over Taipei.
The Chinese Embassy in Fiji rejected the accusations made by Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry. In a statement on Monday, the embassy said that the Taiwan officials had been “acting provocatively against the Chinese embassy staff, who were carrying out their official duties in a public area outside the function venue.”
China’s Foreign Ministry stated on Monday that its embassy officials were aware that the Taiwanese diplomats were holding their National Day celebrations in the Grand Pacific hotel which included the cutting of a cake with Taiwan’s flag designed on it.
Beijing expressed its displeasure over the event as it does recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.
“A false national flag was openly displayed at the scene, the cake was also marked with a false national flag,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
The Chinese embassy in Fiji on Monday stated that Taiwan was an “inalienable part of China’s territory” and criticized Taiwan’s National Day function for “clearly (violating) the one-China principle.”
In response, Ou said that China’s version of what happened at the event was “an attempt to reverse the truth and confuse the public.”
Both sides confirmed that they had asked the Fijian police to thoroughly investigate the matter.
The Chinese embassy said that it “expects that the Fijian side will tackle this issue properly.”
The controversy erupted amid growing discord between China and Taiwan following Taipei’s increased closeness with Washington in recent months. Senior United States diplomats have made unprecedented visits to Taiwan since August, which has irked Beijing.
China has increased its military activity in the South China Sea over the last few weeks and issued war threats against Taiwan.
US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien on October 7 warned Beijing against any military action on Taiwan, although he added that it was difficult to predict how the US would respond in case of a Chinese attack on Taiwan.
Reuters reported on October 12 that the White House had notified the US Congress of its plan to move forward with the sale of three advanced weapons systems to Taiwan, including the advanced High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian responded with a warning to Washington to “immediately cancel any arms sales plans to Taiwan” and cut all “US-Taiwan military ties.”
Although Taiwan has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Beijing considers it to be an integral part of its territory. The Chinese administration restricts nations from giving diplomatic recognition to Taiwan and prevents it from joining multilateral organizations, including the United Nations.
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