In a strange turn of events, a fight broke out during a reception in Fiji to mark Taiwan's national day with Chinese diplomats taking on Taiwanese government employees. This comes amid rising tension between the rival governments over diplomatic recognition.
But while a Taiwanese ministry spokesperson said that the confrontation erupted when the Taiwanese tried to stop Chinese diplomats from taking photos of guests at the October 8 event, the Chinese account is somewhat different.
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 behavior," said spokeswoman Joanne Ou, in a written statement.
Reacting to the news, Member of Parliament in Taiwan, Wang Ting-yu said that he was apalled by the incident. "I am appalled and outraged by the break-in and violent attack carried out by Chinese diplomats against Taiwan's foreign service members at our national day reception in Fiji. We can't let China bully its way into doing whatever it wants. Our diplomats in Fiji have my full support," he tweeted.
China however does not agree. And part of it's official comments is focused on the fact that such an incident could not technically have taken place simply because "Taiwan has no so-called diplomats in Fiji".
Hong Kong reporter for Washington Post, Ryan Ho Kilpatrick took to Twitter sharing the statements made by Chinese Spokesperson Zhao Lijian. "The Fijian government has long adhered to the correct position of the one-China principle, and in 2019 ordered Taiwan's business establishments in Fiji not to use Taiwan's pseudonym and not to engage in "one China, one Taiwan" or "two Chinas" on Fiji's territory," the statement begins.
It adds that the incident in question had taken place when the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji held the "so-called National Day event".
"The false flag was publicly displayed on the scene, and the cake was also marked with a false flag pattern This kind of function clearly violates the one-China principle and the relevant rules and regulations of the Fijian government, with an attempt to create 'two Chinas' or 'one China, one Taiwan' internationally. 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," Lijian alleges.
China has been stepping up pressure on other governments to isolate Taiwan, which split with the mainland in 1949 following a civil war. Taiwan is recognized as an independent government by only 15 nations, most of them small and poor. But its democratically elected government has extensive commercial and informal ties with many nations.
Following the news of the altercation for example, many in India have taken to Twitter to express their solidarity.
(With inputs from agencies)