Palau President Surangel Whipps (Youtube screenshot: 民 視 英語 新聞 Formosa TV English News).
Despite pressure from Beijing, the island nation of Palau has not given up on its relationship with Taiwan. President Palau Surangel Whipps said he did not like Beijing’s bullying attitude and would continue to interact with Taipei, Straitstimes said.
President Whipps on 28/3 had a visit to Taiwan on behalf of the opening of the “travel bubble” between Palau and Taiwan. Accompanying Mr. Whipps on that trip was also the US Ambassador to Palau John Hennesey-Niland. According to observers, it was a double move to show support for Taipei despite Beijing’s threats.
Mr. Whipps, 52, became Palau’s president last year after defeating a pro-Beijing rival. The island nation of the Pacific with an area of 466 square kilometers and a total of more than 21,000 inhabitants is one of 15 countries that still maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
President Palau said after returning from his visit to Taiwan last week: “If we are the last to support Taiwan, we will still do so, because Taiwan has been with us right from the start. head”.
President Whipps of the island nation Palau is known as a leader “most skeptical of China in the Pacific”, French AFP news agency said. This stems from Beijing’s increasingly assertive stance under General Secretary Xi Jinping, as well as his meetings with Chinese officials, Palau said.
“I met them and the first thing they told me on one call was‘ What you guys are doing is illegal, Taiwan is illegal, ‘said Mr Whipps. You guys need to stop ‘, that’s the tone they use. We don’t need anyone to tell us who we should be friends with ”.
President Whipps said he often received phone calls from Chinese officials during the election preparations last year. “The phone rings about 16 times a day,” he said. After the election, I did not receive any more calls from them.
Palau is located about 900 km east of the Philippines. The island nation witnessed the explosion of Chinese tourists in the first half of the decade. However, Beijing unexpectedly banned package tours to Palau in 2017, a move aimed at putting economic pressure on the island nation.
Mr. Whipps believes that Beijing’s decision was counterproductive because it helped raise awareness among Palauans about the CCP regime’s bullying habits.