Micronesian leaders urged Pacific Islands Forum to treat China and Taiwan equally

KOROR, 26 FEBRUARY 2019 (PACIFIC NOTE) – Leaders of the Micronesian region “strongly encouraged” that Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and its Secretariat recognized equally the participation of China and Taiwan in regional meetings, amid the Chinese Community Party’s alleged push to isolate the government of Taipei.

“The presidents and heads of delegation strongly encouraged that the PIF and the Secretariat establish a more respectful and fair policy regarding the conduct of PIF activities relating to the participation of the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan,” stated the communique signed by the leaders.

Last week, Palau hosted the annual Micronesia Presidents’ Summit, a gathering of leaders from Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Island (RMI), Kiribati and Nauru last week.

Sources said that the statement in the communique was included stemming from reports that Taiwan is being isolated from meetings at the forum.

The source cited an incident in the forum meeting in Samoa in 2017 where the Taiwanese delegates were not allowed access to the meeting’s venue.

In the Nauru forum meeting last year, the Chinese delegate was not allowed to speak in an event and that Baron Waqa’s government refused to grant entry to Chinese delegates on their diplomatic passport and was told instead to use their normal passport.

The Micronesian leaders said that China and Taiwan should be treated equally to reflect “the Pacific hospitality.”

“The president’s and Head of Delegations, therefore, recommended that starting in Tuvalu and moving forward, meetings with post forum dialogue partners are held in the same venue,” the communique stated.

Except for the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, and RMI recognise Taiwan instead of China.

Taiwan has six allies in the Pacific, including the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu but has been fighting hard from the alleged push by Beijing to exclude them from the PIF.

Although not an official PIF member, the six Pacific allies regard Taiwan as a development partner and should be allowed to speak in the same forum meetings as China.

In light of the recent reports that China has been increasing pressure on Pacific Island nations to recognise Beijing instead of Taiwan, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo paid tribute to the nations’ support to the government of Taipei in an address to the Micronesian leaders.

“Taiwan is also a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world. As Vice President Mike Pence said, America will always believe Taiwan’s embrace of democracy is an example to be internationally supported. We respect and support the decision those of you have made to continue to support Taiwan,” the statement said.

Australia, which is another Pacific ally, is also battling China for influence.

Australia’s Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Anne Rushton who attend the summit here said that Canberra is making sure that it is setting an example that investments in small island nations should be in the “best interest” of countries.

“Australia will stand strong against investments, not in the best interest of the nations,” Rushton said.

FSM Foreign Affairs Secretary Lorin Robert said although his country has diplomatic relationship with Beijing and that China has provided much aid to the country but it has an economic partnership with Taiwan.

David Adeang, Minister Assisting the President of Nauru highlighted the strong relationship it has with Nauru during the summit here.

 

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