Forum chair to demand apology from China on ‘bullying and disruptive’ behaviour in Nauru

Nauru president Baron Waqa. Picture: RNZ

YAREN, 06 SEPTEMBER 2018 (PACNEWS)- Nauru’s President and chairperson of the Pacific Islands Forum, Baron Waqa will seek a formal apology from the People’s Republic of China for what he called ‘disruptive & bullying’ behaviour of a Chinese government senior official at the Partners Dialogue Tuesday.

President Waqa warned China and other global powers seeking to use the Pacific as their playground to compete with each other – that the Pacific will no longer tolerate any interference.

“We are ready. From this meeting in Nauru, going forward, we will not allow this kind of behaviour in our Pacific meeting space,” said the Nauru President, who will be at the helm of the 18 member grouping of nation until Tuvalu hosts next year.

Speaking to journalists at the end of the Leaders Retreat Wednesday night, President Waqa did not mince his words when he condemned the behaviour of the Chinese diplomat, Du Qiwen, the head of the Chinese delegation to this year’s Forum Leaders meeting.

“His behaviour in front of our leaders, ministers and officials was uncalled for. Would he behave like that in front of his President? I doubt it. He disrespected the Pacific and its Leaders and our dialogue partners who had come to join us in our own meeting.

“Look at him, he is a nobody. He is not even a Minister and demanding to be recognised and to speak before the Prime Minister of Tuvalu. Is he crazy?

“We will go further than that. We will not only ask for a formal apology, we will actually take it up to the United Nations. Not only that I will mention it at the UN and every international meeting to raise our concerns about this incident.

“Never mind they are bigger than us, but they should not disrespect us, said President Waqa.

The Forum chair said dialogue partners need to respect the protocols and values of the Pacific Islands Forum, if they want to be engaged with member countries.

“I have to be strong for our members because no one is to come and dictate to us. If you listen to the retreat today, even their friends do not agree with their action. They were disappointed.

In light of the disruption at the Nauru meeting, a suggestion to convene the Partners Dialogue at the Foreign Ministers Meetings instead of the annual Leaders’ Summit had been proposed by Smaller Island State Leaders.

Forum Leaders have taken the suggestion on board and directed the Secretariat to work with the Forum Troika – Samoa, Nauru and Tuvalu) to review guidelines and format of the Pacific Islands Forum Meetings and report back to Leaders.

Tuvalu will be the host of the 50th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting next year.

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