Debates have erupted after a Tongan Auckland-based lawyer criticised a statement released by Chinese embassy in Nuku’alofa saying it could speak for Tonga at the United Nations’ Security Council.
The comment was released in a statement to Kaniva news and other media on Thursday in which HE Cao Xiaolin was quoted as saying China spoke “for Tonga and other developing countries with a view to safeguarding our common interests.”
Lawyer Nalesoni Tupou objected to the statement saying what Tonga’s common interests with China were.
He said it looked like China was working to become the mind that thinks for Tonga, influencing Tonga’s objectives, RNZ reported.
“Tonga was a nation of its own and not a province of China, unless the Tongan government had already given approval and endorsements for China to deliver to the UN as its voice,” said Mr Tupou.
However, ‘Emeline Tuita, a former Tongan Ambassador to China has rubbished Tupou’s criticism.
Tuita said it was “irresponsible to take out of context a perfectly sincere diplomat’s speech.”
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Tuita said HE Cao was one of the first diplomats to work in Tonga when Tonga joined the UN.
“The reference to the UN Security Council is because China is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council and at the time of submission of Tonga’s application to be a member of the UN it was approved because China did not veto it (which they would have done if we still maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan),” Tuita claimed.
“The statement was actually supposed to reassure us, the people of Tonga that China would make sure that they would look after Tonga’s (and he stated Tonga [because] he is in Tonga after all) and developing countries common interests.
“I guess that’s why nobody at the reception saw anything wrong with the statement and toasted to it and the Prime Minister and most certainly His Majesty would be flabbergasted at such xenophobic erroneous interpretation.”
Tonga is a member of the United Nations but not the UN’s Security Council.
The Council is composed of 15 Members including five permanent members which are China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States and ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly (with end of term year).
The lawyer’s criticism was posted to Facebook and carried by the Ha’a Lo’au and Lo’auan Movement’s Facebook page.
It was shared 260 times and received 290 comments as well as 407 reactions.
Some mentioned Tonga’s multi-million loan from China and asking if this was one of the conditions if Tonga failed to pay it back.
Some concerned online users criticised the royals for their roles in allowing China to have diplomatic relationship with the kingdom.
However, some said the comment by the HE Cao was politicised by many online users.