Taipei, March 28 (CNA) Taiwan's government expressed its gratitude to Fiji on Tuesday for reinstating the old name of its representative office there, which includes the "Republic of China (ROC)" -- Taiwan's official name.
Wallace Chow (周民淦), head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (MOFA) Department of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said MOFA had been officially notified by Fiji of its change in position on Friday.
The representative office, currently called the Taipei Trade Office in Fiji, can once again use its old name, the "Trade Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Republic of Fiji," retroactively effective on March 15, Chow said.
Also, Taiwanese diplomats in the office will again be accorded diplomatic privileges as stipulated in Fiji's Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1971, which they had before the previous Fiji administration asked the office to change its name in 2018, Chow said, citing the Fiji government notice.
The moves were made despite the lack of official diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Chow thanked the Fiji government for its decision, which reversed the policy made by its previous government, and said the two sides will continue to deepen their friendly relations.
According to Chow, the previous Fiji ruling administration forced the office to give up the ROC name in 2018 due to Chinese pressure.
The reversal of that policy came after Fiji elected a new government in national elections in December 2022, bringing a Taiwan-friendly three-party coalition to power, Chow said.
In the first change in government in the Pacific island country in 16 years, the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), People's Alliance, and National Federation Party formed an allied government, dislodging Frank Bainimarama's Fiji First party.
A diplomatic source told CNA that the new Fiji government was formed by opposition parties that have always been more friendly toward Taiwan, which is also why they recently decided to scrap a police training and exchange agreement with China.
The source would not say if that meant Fiji could consider ditching Beijing for Taipei in forming official diplomatic ties but suggested that the two sides have been in talks to reopen Fiji's trade office in Taipei, which was closed in May 2017.
MOFA also said Fiji's new government favorably viewed Taiwan's medical, educational, agricultural and human resource development contributions to Fiji since its office opened in 1971, and decided to reinstate the office's name after internal discussions.
Republic of Fiji was the first Pacific island country to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China in 1975. China established an embassy there in 1976, and Fiji opened its embassy in China in 2001.
Despite the lack of official diplomatic ties with ROC, Fiji leaders have visited Taiwan and even spoken up for Taiwan's international participation on several occasions, according to the source.