The president of the small Pacific Island nation of Palau called on Taiwan to be allowed to join efforts to protect the world’s oceans after Taiwanese nationals were blocked from attending a U.N. event in Portugal.
The event focused on the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources, a key concern for Pacific Island nations.
“We need all of humanity, including the 23 million people in Taiwan, to be part of the solution,” President Surangel Whipps Jr. said on the first day of the U.N. Ocean Conference held from June 27 to July 1.
The president’s comments were part of a media release put out by the U.N. on June 27 and were followed by more critical comments attributed to a delegate at the conference’s closing ceremony as reported by Reuters.
“The U.N. has excluded the 23 million people of Taiwan from the conversation,” the unnamed delegate said. “They were not given badges and were not allowed to be part of our delegation simply because they hold Taiwanese passports.
“We view this as a violation of our sovereign rights…ocean issues are global issues and we call on all of us to work together without discrimination.”
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has blocked the self-ruled island from participating in any international organization composed of sovereign states, including the United Nations.
A U.S. delegate said that Palau should be allowed to include Taiwan’s people on its list of delegates as each member state has the right to decide the composition of its delegation for the conference.
“No credential committee should have pressed them to remove those individuals from their delegations,” the U.S. delegate said, reported Reuters.
The Palau president’s comments were made as Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe withdrew from the Ocean Conference on June 27 after China, who is on the U.N. credentials committee, demanded three Taiwanese delegates be removed from the Tuvalu delegation.
In response to the incident, Beijing’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that Taiwanese delegates “will only bring disgrace” to themselves if they continue to join foreign delegations to wedge into international conferences.
“Certain countries ignored the One China principle and the overriding trend in the world. It facilitated the personnel of the Taiwan authorities to wedge into the conference and deliberately hyped up this matter,” he told reporters.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi embarked on an eight-nation tour in May to shore up alliances with Pacific leaders who are on friendly terms with Beijing.
Tuvalu, Nauru, Palau, and the Marshall Islands are the only four Pacific countries to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan and recognize the island as a sovereign nation.
Daniel Y. Teng contributed to this report.