Taiwan and Palau – Recognition’s Many Facets
The tiny Pacific nation of Palau caught headlines when it co-hosted the seventh “Our Ocean Conference” in mid-April this year. For Palau’s president, Surangel Whipps Jr, the hybrid gathering certainly was a moment of pride. In many ways, the discussions held finally focused on the Pacific Islands’ real concerns – the foreseeable impact of climate change and rising sea levels, among others, on islanders’ lives. With all eyes notably set on Palau’s National Gym to follow lively debates, the simultaneous presence of a Taiwan Coast Guard vessel went largely unnoticed. After all, bilateral relations between Taiwan and Palau have been perennial even in the face of geopolitical shifts – including the Sino-Solomon Islands security pact and a heated Australian election campaign. And, as Whipps has made repeatedly clear, “nobody dictates our [Palau’s] friends” – ultimately begging the question of what underlying factors are at play in Palau’s recognition of Taiwan’s statehood.
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