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China is not an issue – Tuvalu

Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe has called for Pacific solidarity to deal with the China–Solomon debacle and to focus on what matters to the Pacific.

He believes the geopolitical war between the so called superpowers are dragging the Pacific nations away from the real threat of climate change.

During COP26, world leaders were made to come face to face with the realities of climate change as Mr Kofe stood in knee deep water to address them.

He said the real issue which all Pacific Islanders are living with on a daily basis is climate change.

“In my opinion, attention to the security pact does draw attention away from climate change. Climate change is the single greatest security threat the Pacific faces—this is clear in numerous statements from the Pacific Islands Forum and in our Tuvalu Foreign Policy,” said Mr Kofe.

Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe at the PIF in Suva. Picture: Twitter.

“Given this, I feel that we have to deal with security issues in our region with the necessary perspective, and, as a region, we must always realize the importance of maintaining climate change as our primary security concern.”

Mr Kofe said Pacific nations respected the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands, and if they did have an issue with the China-Solomon deal, then that would be dealt directly with the Solomon Islands and in the Pacific way.

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“That being said, we also respect those who have concerns about the security pact. Regardless, it is important that the Pacific handles these issues carefully. The last thing we want is for our nations to be used against each other or as pawns.

“Unless there is consensus among our Pacific family, I feel that we should not be forced to choose a “side” in a geopolitical fight that is not of our own creation.

“In the Pacific, we handle issues in the Pacific way through consensus. We sit down face to face, and we talk things out. Some of the critical issues we are facing now can only be resolved when we meet face to face and really have a frank discussion.

Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe addressing the COP 26. Picture: Twitter

“Because of COVID, we have not been able to have as many face to face conversations as we would like, but I think we will very soon have the opportunity to come together and really be able to discuss all of our issues, including security and regional unity, in the Pacific way.”

Mr Kofe said the Pacific Islands Forum could be more vocal in this matter—not by taking a side but by urging respect for all Forum nations according to the Pacific values of collectivism and caring and sharing.

“We can talk frankly to each other about our thoughts and concerns regarding national or sovereign issues, but, as a Forum, we also have to ensure that our region, our Pacific countries, and their needs and interests are respected by the outside world,” he said.

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