Despite pressure from China, Taiwan affirms cooperation with Palau

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Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Thursday affirmed that the country will continue to push for peace, prosperity and stability with Palau in the Indo-Pacific region, even though China has encouraged the Pacific ally to cut ties with Taipei, Central News Agency Taiwan reported.

The Ministry said in a statement that Taiwan has long supported Palau in tourism development in a bid to strengthen the Pacific nation’s “economic resilience and sustainability.” The Taiwan Foreign Ministry said that Taipei has been keen to help Ngerulmud improve its tourism industry in the post-COVID era, maintaining stable direct flight links between the two countries while working with like-minded countries to support the Pacific island nation’s development.

“In the future, MOFA will continue to team up with Palau to facilitate peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” the statement read. This came after Cleo Paskal, a researcher at the US-based think tank ‘Foundation for Defense of Democracies’, posted a letter from Palau President Surangel Whipps Junior to a US senator on her X handle, Focus Taiwan reported.

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“The PRC has already offered to ‘fill every hotel room’ in our tourism-based private sector — ‘and more if more are built’ — and USD 20 million a year for two acres for a ‘call centre,’ the letter stated. Whipps urged the US Congress to support the Compacts of Free Association (COFA), a financial aid agreement with Palau, that also includes Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. A renewal of the 20-year COFA was signed late last year, but USD 7 billion to fund it is still struggling to find a path forward in the US Congress, Central News Agency Taiwan reported citing international media.

Whipps further said that as long as the US Congress fails to renew the COFA aid package, it will “play into the hands of the CCP and the leaders here (some of whom have done ‘business’ with the PRC) who want to accept its seemingly attractive economic offers — at the cost of shifting alliances, beginning with sacrificing Taiwan.” In response, the ministry said Whipps has repeatedly supported Taiwan’s international organizations on many international occasions, including the UN General Assembly and the 28th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) held last year.

The Taiwan ministry also described Whipps as an “adamant ally” of Taiwan, as per CNA Taiwan. In addition, it said Whipps had a phone conversation with Taiwan’s President-elect Lai Ching-te soon after the presidential election on January 13 and congratulated Taiwan for advancing ‘democratic values’, indicating the bilateral ties between the two countries are stable and continue to grow.

Notably, Taiwan has long criticised China accusing it of “poaching” its diplomatic allies Nauru severed ties with Taiwan two days after the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate was elected president. It was the 10th diplomatic ally Taipei lost to Beijing since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016 due to deteriorating cross-Taiwan Strait relations, Focus Taiwan reported.