Tsai arrived in Palau on Thursday to kick off her second official visit to the Pacific. AFP
KOROR: Visiting Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has pledged a tourism boost and gifted a coast guard vessel to the remote Pacific microstate of Palau, as she works to check a push for regional influence by rival China.
Tsai arrived in Palau on Thursday to kick off her second official visit to the Pacific, amid growing concerns over Beijing’s attempt to lure away Taipei’s few remaining diplomatic allies.
Her overtures this week included a pledge to increase flights to the tiny island state, which is struggling to boost tourism after cutting back on charter flights from mainland China.
Tsai said national carrier China Airlines would add a fourth weekly flight to Palau to bolster the local tourism industry, which has been dominated by visitors from mainland China.
She also gifted a coastal frigate for patrol of a new conservation area, to be established when the country closes part of its exclusive economic zone to commercial fishing by next year.
The Taiwan leader made the commitments late Friday after meetings with Palau President Tommy Remengesau, who reaffirmed his tiny nation’s “lasting friendship” with her country.
“As our friends from Taiwan know all too well, as island states, securing our ocean spaces is vital to allow our respective national projects to flourish,” he said.
Remengesau added that Palau students currently on scholarships at the Taiwan Naval Academy would join its crew.
The Taiwanese naval patrol frigate Hsun Hu No.7 took part in joint exercises with Palau’s Coast Guard on Saturday.
Tsai addressed Palau’s congress on Friday, thanking them for “their longstanding commitment to speaking up for Taiwan” at the UN and other world bodies, as well as for “upholding the core values of democracy and freedom.”
But the fragility of that support was underscored when both the Senate president and speaker, backers of shifting Palau’s recognition from Taiwan to China, skipped the event.
Beijing has stepped up diplomatic pressure on Taiwan since Tsai took office in 2016, as she has refused to acknowledge its “one China” policy that considers the self-ruling island a renegade province to be brought back into the fold.
Five countries have switched official recognition to Beijing since Tsai became president, leaving Taipei with only 17 diplomatic allies including six in the Pacific, where China has been boosting its economic and military presence.
Tsai leaves Palau on Sunday for Nauru and then the Marshall Islands.
Tsai is due to wrap up her tour by transiting through Hawaii on March 27, drawing a protest by Beijing to Washington, which switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 but remains Taiwan’s most powerful unofficial ally and biggest arms supplier.
A Hong Kong court on Tuesday found nine leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy “Occupy” movement guilty of public nuisance during the mass protests, in a landmark verdict as freedoms in the city ruled by mainland China come under strain.
The US military said it sent two Navy warships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday as the Pentagon increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.
The leaders of China, France, Germany and the EU were set to meet in Paris on Tuesday for “unprecedented” talks on how to improve ties, despite growing jitters over Beijing’s massive investments in Europe.
NATIONS: Russia sent home nearly two-thirds of some 30,000 North Koreans working there during 2018 and China repatriated more than half, but did not specify a figure, according to unpublished reports by Moscow and Beijing to the United Nations Security Council.
The Eiffel Tower was evacuated on Monday after a man was seen climbing up the iconic Paris landmark, one of France's biggest tourist draws, the operating company said.
The hilarious video reminds us of some movie scene where the actor and actress go on a romantic ride.
Trump's tweet comes after he seemingly sought to soften his tone on Iran following days of heightened tension sparked by his administration's sudden deployment of bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Arabian Gulf over still-unspecified threats.
Both sides have been at loggerheads over the new governing body that would rule Sudan for a three-year transitional period after the ouster last month of longtime autocrat Omar Al Bashir.
The latest discussions were launched on Sunday evening following pressure from world powers to install a civilian-led governing body — a key demand of demonstrators.