TAIPEI, Taiwan - It should have been a calm diplomatic gathering in a sophisticated hotel on the beach in Fiji.
In the recent incident of the growing tensions between the two nations, the reception this month by the leaders of Taiwan that was held in Suva, the capital of Fiji, pave the way to a fistfight involving leaders who represented China and Taiwan.
On Oct. 8, as Taiwan organized a reception to commemorate its national day in front of a crowd of Fijian politicians, scholars, and nonprofit personnel, these tensions burst over at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.
On Monday, leaders of Beijing and Taipei gave opposing statements of the alleged incident following reports circulated rapidly on social media about the scuffle.
Both parties have accused one another of having started the fistfight. The Chinese government has been trying to monitor its personnel and visitors, Taiwan stated. Beijing added that its officials were conducting regular duties and protested that a cake was made to appear like Taiwan's flag at the reception.
A longtime conflict over Taiwan's territory, a self-governing land of 24 million people which China declared as its jurisdiction, is at the core of the matter. As Beijing has increased the number of live-fire exercises and taken a more bellicose sound, military conflict concerns have risen.
In the past years, China has undertaken a collective effort to counteract Taiwan's impact on a global scale, particularly within the Pacific. As a result of such an effort, amid objections from the United States and other nations, Beijing has poached many allies of Taiwan in the region.
A group of Chinese officials turned up at the reception unwelcome and have tried to photograph visitors, as per Taiwan's foreign ministry. In the past years, Beijing has used such methods to harass its adversaries and those who support them.
The guests became aggressive when Taiwanese officials attempted to block the Chinese representatives, as per the ministry. They assaulted a Taiwanese official so seriously that the official has been hospitalized, the ministry further added.
On Monday, Taiwan's foreign ministry labeled the Chinese officials' behavior as a provocation and stated that it would seek to improve security for overseas government employees. In a report, the ministry stated that it has "strongly condemns the serious violation of the rule of law and civilized norms by the Chinese Embassy staff in Fiji."
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However, Chinese officials have denied that statement, claiming that Taiwan officials had behaved "provocatively" and had hurt one of their diplomats during the altercation. The Chinese embassy did not clarify as to how its delegates were at the reception, issuing a statement simply that they were in a public location "carrying their official duties."
It was made clear by Beijing that had seen the reception as a political threat. Although Beijing's longstanding ally is Fiji, an archipelago in the South Pacific, Taiwan establishes a trade agency in Suva. It has tried to increase its prominence through funding for agriculture and education.
"There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an integral part of China," said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, at a media conference in Beijing. "Taiwan's move is intended to create 'two Chinas' or 'one China, one Taiwan' internationally," Lijian added.
On the other hand, Fiji officials have not answered a response on the issue.