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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen welcomes Palau President Surangel Whipps at a ceremony in Taipei on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

Palau leader vows to back Taiwan amid ‘mounting aggressions’ in the Pacific

  • Island nation’s president offers support to Taipei as Beijing and Washington engage in diplomatic tug of war in region
  • Of the 14 countries to maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, four are in the Pacific
The president of Palau said on Thursday that his small Pacific island nation is committed to supporting Taiwan despite “mounting aggressions”, offering his strong backing at a time Beijing is ramping up pressure against Taipei in the region.
The Pacific is the site of a diplomatic tug of war between Beijing and Washington, and in 2019 mainland China snatched away two of Taiwan’s then-allies in the region, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands.

Kiribati’s airstrip revamp sparks political debate on China’s intentions

Palau, which has a population of fewer than 20,000 people and is a close US ally, is one of only 14 countries to maintain formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own.

Speaking at a welcome ceremony on a visit to Taipei, Palau President Surangel Whipps Jnr praised ties that he said were based on a shared commitment to freedom and democracy.

“The people of Palau deeply value the friendship between our two nations and are committed to supporting Taiwan despite the mounting aggressions in our region,” Whipps said, standing next to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.


China’s proposed security deal with Pacific islands falls short as Wang Yi tours region

China’s proposed security deal with Pacific islands falls short as Wang Yi tours region
Whipps condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation” to disarm the country.

“In face of attempts by nations to change the international status quo by force, we must continue to work together and encourage international cooperation in order to ease military tensions,” he added.

Taiwan has faced increased military pressure from Beijing, especially since the People’s Liberation Army staged war games near the island in August after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei.

American envoy keen for Taiwan-Palau-US cooperation, despite Beijing’s protests

Tsai told Whipps that he was a good friend.

“Taiwan greatly appreciates Palau’s friendship,” she said.

Whipps will attend Taiwan’s national day celebrations on Monday.

In the Pacific, Nauru, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands have, like Palau, stuck with Taipei.