A Taiwanese government employee ended up in hospital in Fiji this month after two Chinese diplomats stormed into a reception trying to gather information on who was attending, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said on Monday.
The confrontation broke out on October 8 when the Taiwanese tried to stop the Chinese diplomats from taking photos of guests at the event to mark Taiwan’s National Day, a ministry spokeswoman said in a written statement.
Joanne Ou said a Taiwanese employee was taken to a hospital with a head wound while police took away the Chinese diplomats.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemns the Chinese embassy in Fiji’s staff‘s actions which severely violates rule of law and norms of civilized behaviour,” she said, adding that Taiwan made a formal protest to the Fiji government.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has recently ramped up pressure on Taipei to accept Chinese sovereignty, including sending fighter jets near the democratically-run island.
China says Taiwan is one of its provinces, with no right to full ties with foreign countries, and the Pacific is a significant source of competition between the two, where Taiwan has formal diplomatic relations with four countries, though not Fiji.
Taiwan said the alleged assault was the first physical confrontation between members of Beijing and Taipei’s diplomatic missions, adding that the Chinese diplomats had “falsely claimed” that they had been attacked.
China’s embassy in Fiji rejected Taiwan’s account, and said they had asked Fiji’s police to investigate.
“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,” it said.
A Fiji police spokeswoman told AFP news agency that an investigation into the Taiwanese function at the Grand Pacific Hotel was continuing and its officers were working with Fiji’s foreign affairs ministry.
Larry Tseng, the head of the Taiwanese foreign ministry’s East Asia and Pacific affairs department, said the Chinese were trying to work out whether any Fijian politicians were present at the event.
There were injuries on both sides in the “pushing and shoving” that took place between the Chinese and Taiwanese diplomats, he added.
Wang Ting-yu, a legislator from Taiwan’s ruling party who sits on the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, said he was “appalled and outraged” by the assault.
“We can’t let China bully its way into doing whatever it wants,” he tweeted.