China diplomats accused of squatting in Tahiti

China‘s diplomats in French Polynesia are accused of illegally occupying premises in Tahiti.

Residence Taina used as Chinese diplomatic mission in French Polynesia Photo: supplied

The owners of the building, which houses China‘s consulate, have launched an after China ignored the instructions to vacate the premises in Punaauia at the end of February.

The mission was given the legally required six months notice last July to move out of the Residence Tania which Beijing had rented since 2007.

This came after an increasing number of disputes over rent and maintenance of the house.

While the owner Huguette Ly and her daughter Eva Bitton were trying to regain possession of their house, China, through its new consul, offered to buy it but they insist that it is not for sale.

China‘s consulate in French Polynesia given notice to vacate rented house Photo: supplied

Eva Bitton said she met the Chinese diplomats at their request.

“So I went there, with lawyers, and just sat down. I didn‘t sign anything. And now they are telling the French state, they are telling the Haut-Commissaire Rene Bidal, the most important state representative, that I signed the paper when I sat down at the meeting. This is very unfair.”

She also said the house is a residential home, but it is no longer used as such.

Regulations restrict the house to being used as residential home only Photo: supplied

“They have a big satellte dish on the roof. We told them it‘s not made for that. My mum said they wanted her to pay millions for electricity and she said her house was not made for that. There are computer there, it looks like NASA,” she said.

She said in addition to ignoring French contract law, the Chinese diplomats were refusing her and her mother access to the house.

Because the Chinese diplomats failed to leave, a bailiff was sent to Residence Tania on 22 March to ascertain for the record that the Chinese mission still occupied Residence Taina.

The bailiff reported that a consulate employee wanted to have a meeting with the French High Commissioner to “try to find a solution to this situation.”

Mrs Bitton said after the rental contract had lapsed China sent money to the account but she said their bank returned it because the rental contract had expired at the end of February.

House in Punaauia occupied by Chinese diplomats Photo: supplied

Why the Chinese government is determined to defy local laws and keep the house is unclear to her.

“Maybe there is gold under the house, I don‘t know. They have money, they have other houses. They have another big house just 100 metres from my house,” she said.

In the absence of any government support in her struggle with China she has turned to .

Bid to regain access to house has prompted social media campaign Photo: supplied

She said local media had largely ignored her plight, suggesting they are subject to pressure.

The French Polynesian government said it was a private dispute between a landlord and a tenant and it could not intervene in the affairs strictly in the competence of China.

Mrs Bitton said, however, that she had been asked to meet the local government last year and was advised to let the Chinese diplomats have their way.

RNZ Pacific has asked the Chinese consulate for comment.