The newly elected president of Palau, a small pacific nation, has vowed to resist China’s treatment of countries in the region which he referred to as “bullying.” He also promised that his country will continue to respect alliances with the United States and Taiwan, his country’s “true friends.”
Taking a Stance
Palau recently elected Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, president. Whipps owns a supermarket and previously served two terms as a senator in his country. He comes from a very affluent Palauan family and will be succeeding his brother-in-law Tommy Remengesau Jr. when he is sworn in as president on 21 January.
He made this stance known in an honest interview with the Guardian, where he also revealed that the US has proved over the years to be a reliable friend of Palau. The new president cited the US’s recent delivery of 6000 doses of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine as a veritable case in point. He also pledged that Palau would continue formally recognizing and closely relating with Taiwan, in spite of China’s growing presence in the Pacific.
Recognizing the fact that an open association with the US is likely to attract sanctions from China, Whipps said: “It’s important for countries to have shared values, support each other and work together. There is a competition, yes [between the US and China] but that’s their competition. It’s about what we believe.”
“There are thoughts that the ‘United States and China are in a race’; I think what it is really about is freedom and the exercise of democracy and many times, we feel big countries want to bully small countries. It’s important to have a strong partner that is there for us.”
“Palau’s position, as a friend of Taiwan, has caused a lot of collateral damage for Palau. Other countries that do not like this relationship, do things in the international community, like the UN and other Pacific organizations, to try to disrupt what Palau is promoting. I think that’s the nature of larger nations who want to bully,” he concluded.