Palau President Surangel Whipps, in Japan for a state visit, on Thursday voiced concern about attempts by Moscow and Beijing to change the international status quo by force, warning that such moves will increase military tensions and destabilise the global order.
“Being a small country, and seeing what has happened in Ukraine, we value the rule of law, respecting boundaries,” Whipps said in an interview in Tokyo.
He also said China is taking steps that are destabilising the western Pacific.
Last month, China carried out large-scale military drills around Taiwan in response to U.S House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island.
“What we all want is to reduce the escalation of activities and maintain the status quo,” Whipps said. “I hope that the escalations will stop, and that we can continue with the peace and security that we had before.”
Palau is one of the few countries to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Whipps reiterated his country’s intention to keep those ties alive. “We value that relationship,” he said. “It’s a very strong and healthy relationship, and Taiwan has been a good partner. We want to continue to work with them.”
Some Pacific island nations have switched diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan under pressure from Beijing. In exchange, they are seeking economic assistance from China. The Solomon Islands and Kiribati severed ties with Taiwan in 2019.
“I know, over the past few years, we have seen many countries that used to recognise the Republic of China, Taiwan, [and] switched sides,” Whipps said. “And I think, because of that, that has created more tension and more. … Maybe it makes the region more unstable.”
The Solomon Islands is now rapidly leaning toward Beijing. In April, it signed a security pact with China.
“We have to understand that every country is different. We respect our — especially our Pacific brothers for the choices they make,” Whipps said. “But we should work cooperatively together to make sure that whenever they do that, it doesn’t affect all of us.”
Whipps said he will return to Japan later this month to attend the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on 27 September.
He said he will attend a summit meeting between the U.S and Pacific island countries to be held in Washington on 28-29 September.
SOURCE: NIKKEI ASIA/PACNEWS