The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday condemned the Chinese embassy in Fiji over a fracas at its Double Ten National Day event at a Suva hotel, while a lawmaker demanded that the ministry file a lawsuit against Chinese embassy personnel for injuring a Taiwanese diplomat at the event.
The Grubsheet news blog on Sunday and New Zealand-based Asia-Pacific Report Web site yesterday reported that two members of the Chinese embassy in Suva tried to force their way into a celebration held by the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji at the Grand Pacific Hotel on Oct. 8 to take photographs of the 100 people attending the party.
The Chinese assaulted an office staffer who asked them to leave, leaving him needing hospital treatment for a head injury, the reports said.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
The Chinese embassy denied the accusations and said that one of its staffers was injured.
“On that very evening, the staff of the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji acted provocatively against the Chinese embassy staff, who were carrying out their official duties in the public area outside the function venue, causing injuries and damage to one Chinese diplomat,” the embassy said, adding that it has asked Fijian police to investigate.
During a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Mark Ho (何志偉) demanded that the ministry take legal action.
Details of the scuffle were reported locally only after foreign media reported the incident, as the ministry had been handling it in a low-key manner, but it is an “international incident of great severity,” Ho said.
The Chinese embassy should not be able to claim diplomatic immunity, as it only applies to civil cases, and the incident was a criminal case, the lawmaker added.
Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Director-General Larry Tseng (曾瑞利) told Ho that the ministry had filed a complaint with Fijian police, but more evaluations are needed before taking legal action, considering the “complexity and sensitivity” of the incident.
Ho reiterated his demand that the ministry file a lawsuit, adding that such violence should be condemned.
Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that the Chinese diplomats were forced to leave the reception venue by Fijian police following the confrontation, but they tried to muddy the waters by saying that they were attacked first.
MOFA has asked the Fijian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and police to collect evidence to clarify the facts, and also delivered a stern protest to the Fijian ministry against the Chinese embassy, Ou said in a statement.
In view of the increasing number of provocative actions by Chinese diplomats against Taiwan, MOFA has asked its office in Fiji to stay in close contact with local police as part of efforts to bolster security at other events, she added.
The DPP condemned the Chinese diplomats, with spokeswoman Hsieh Pei-fen (謝佩芬) calling their behavior “violent acts that are a serious breach of civility and the rule of law.”
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) also condemned the assault, demanding that Beijing publicly apologize to the injured Taiwanese diplomat and severely punish its diplomats, while calling on the government to lodge a protest against Beijing through the proper channels.
Meanwhile, in Beijing yesterday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said that Taiwan was playing the victim, as he criticized the flags and cake displayed at the event.
“A false national flag was openly displayed at the scene, the cake was also marked with a false national flag,” Zhao told reporters, adding that “any attempt to sow discord between China and Pacific Island countries using the Taiwan issue will not succeed.”
A Fijian police spokeswoman told Agency France-Presse that a probe was ongoing and officers were working with Fiji’s foreign ministry.
Additional reporting by agencies
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