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Regional concern about China grows

Palau’s president Surangel Whipps Jr has warned that China is taking steps to destabilise the Pacific as Micronesia reaffirmed its ties with Taiwan.

Mr Whipps aired this concern in an interview in Tokyo during his state visit where he said attempts by Moscow and Beijing to change the international status quo by force will increase military tensions and destabilise the global order.

“Being a small country, and seeing what has happened in Ukraine, we value the rule of law, respecting boundaries,” Mr Whipps said in an interview in Tokyo.

“What we all want is to reduce the escalation of activities and maintain the status quo. I hope that the escalations will stop, and that we can continue with the peace and security that we had before.

President of Palau Surangel Whipps Jr (R) talks with Fijian Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Picture: Fijian Government

Palau has maintained its relationship with Taiwan despite many Pacific nations severing ties due to the pressure from China. The Chinese have a one China policy where they offer more aid and assistance to nations which sever ties with Taiwan.

The Solomon Islands and Kiribati severed ties with Taiwan in 2019. Mr Whipps said Palau will continue to keep the relationship with Taiwan alive.

“We value that relationship. It’s a very strong and healthy relationship, and Taiwan has been a good partner. We want to continue to work with them,” he said.

“I know, over the past few years, we have seen many countries that used to recognise the Republic of China, Taiwan, have switched sides. And I think, because of that, more tension has been created and it makes the region more unstable.”

In his recent visit to Taiwan, Tuvalu’s prime minister Kausea Natano promised to stand firm on its ties with Taiwan. Picture: Tuvalu Embassy in Taiwan

Just like Palau, Tuvalu is another Pacific nation that has maintained strong ties with Taiwan. In his recent visit to Taiwan, Tuvalu’s prime minister Kausea Natano promised to stand firm on its ties with Taiwan.

Mr Natano said both nations had decent and common values and this had always been an added strength to their bond. Tuvalu has maintained diplomatic relations with Taipei for more than 40 years.

“Through tumultuous times of geostrategic agendas, we continue to stand firm in our commitment to remain a lasting and loyal ally of the Republic of China,” Mr Natano said, referring to Taiwan by its official name.

“I recognise the cornerstones of our diplomatic ties, involving two nations founded on the principles of democracy, trust, human rights and freedom of the individual.”

Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe recently boycotted a trip to the United Nation’s Ocean Conference after they were told to remove two Taiwanese officials from their delegation.

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