The Federated States of Micronesia’s (FSM’s) outgoing leader has proposed that his nation switch allegiances to Taiwan from Beijing as he accused Beijing of waging “political warfare” and making “direct threats” to his safety.
FSM President David Panuelo, whose term is ending in two months, exposed the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to his nation in a leaked 13-page letter addressed to the FSM Congress on March 9.
Panuelo claimed to have been followed during his visit to Fiji in July 2022 by two Chinese officials, who he claimed were employed by the Chinese Embassy in Suva, Fiji. One of them was a Chinese military intelligence officer.
“To be clear: I have had direct threats against my personal safety from PRC [People’s Republic of China] officials acting in an official capacity,” he wrote.
In his letter, Panuelo alleged that Beijing was attempting to undermine the FSM’s sovereignty to ensure that the country would side with the CCP or remain neutral in a potential conflict over self-ruled Taiwan.
“We further know that the FSM has a key role to play in either the prevention of such a conflict, or participation in allowing it to occur,” the Micronesian leader wrote.
Chinese Research VesselPanuelo cited the CCP’s sending its “research vessel” into the FSM’s exclusive economic zone with the intention of “mapping [the FSM’s] maritime territory for potential resources” and for “submarine travel paths.”
“We are aware of PRC activity in our exclusive economic zone whose purpose includes communicating with other PRC assets so as to help ensure that, in the event of a missile—or group of missiles—ever needed to land a strike on the U.S. territory of Guam that they would be successful in doing so,” he said.
The FSM had dispatched patrol boats to check on the Chinese research vessel’s activity in the Pacific Islands nation’s territory, but they were warned “to stay away,” according to Panuelo.
The United States is bound with the FSM, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau through the Compact of Free Association; these countries are called the Freely Associated States.
‘Bribed to Be Silent’Panuelo said the CCP’s political warfare in the FSM included overt activity—such as political alliances and economic measures—and covert activity, such as “bribery, psychological warfare, and blackmail.”
“One of the reasons that China’s political warfare is successful in so many arenas is that we are bribed to be complicit, and bribed to be silent. That’s a heavy word, but it is an accurate description regardless,” he said.
Taiwan’s OffersPanuelo also revealed that he met with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu last month to discuss Taiwan’s potential assistance to the FSM if it decided to recognize Taiwan.
“I was transparent with Foreign Minister Wu. We project we need an injection of approximately $50,000,000 to meet our future needs,” he said.
“We can and we will receive this, over a three-year period, if and when we establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan.”
“The government respects and welcomes FSM expanding bilateral ties with Taiwan, but will not comment on the details on establishing official ties which the FSM president mentioned,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry stated.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry stated that it firmly opposes countries with which Beijing has diplomatic ties “engaging in any form of official interaction” with Taiwan because doing so violates the “One China principle.”
Taiwan has been a self-governing democracy since the Chinese civil war ended in 1949. Still, the CCP regards Taiwan as a breakaway province that must be united with mainland China by any means necessary.
Only four of the Pacific Island nations—Palau, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Tuvalu—recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation.