TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – At the Pacific Island’s Forum (PIF) being held in Nauru this week (Sept. 2-8), the local immigration officers of the small island nation initially refused entry to the Chinese delegation that had come to observe the forum.
The Chinese representatives were furious for being denied entry into the country by the Nauru government, which currently maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan and does not recognize Chinese diplomatic passports.
Before this week Chinese diplomatic passports had never been used to enter the country, according to LTN.
Taiwan, while not an official member of the Pacific Islands Forum, has sent a representatives to the annual meetings as a “development partner” since 1993. This year, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu is attending the 49th annual PIF meeting in Nauru.
Over the past two days, since the Forum’s start, there has been a discord and debate concerning representatives from China, who have joined previous PIF meetings as an “informal member.”Among the 18 official members of the PIF, six are diplomatic allies of Taiwan.
China is very keen to exert influence in the region, and will take every opportunity to contest the participation of Taiwan in International events. However, this year’s PIF meeting in Nauru created a unexpected diplomatic debacle for the Chinese representatives that left them incensed.
Liberty Times reports that the Chinese delegation threatened to withdraw from the meeting, which created a stir among the delegations from some Pacific countries that also threatened to withdraw if the Chinese delegation was not permitted to enter Nauru.
The situation was resolved when the Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailel Malielegaoi, prepared a diplomatic letter to the President and Foreign Affairs Minister of Nauru, Baron Waqa, calling for a measure of compromise to permit the Chinese representative into the country.
Nauru President Baron Waqa and New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern (Associated Press Image)
The Liberty Times reports that the Nauru government agreed to issue temporary visa permits to the Chinese delegation, which were stamped by immigration officers. By stamping the visa permits instead of the passports, Nauru still does not officially recognize Chinese diplomatic passports.
The incident in Nauru represents an increasingly rare occasion when Chinese officials, rather than Taiwanese officials, do not receive official diplomatic recognition from a foreign government, a situation that Taiwanese officials and representatives have become all too familiar with over the years.
In the days following the incident, China’s influence in the region has reportedly resulted in heated debates between PIF member state delegations.
The Chinese delegation has reportedly also been interrupting PIF sessions, and demanding a right to the floor despite not being a PIF member. Their imperious attitude has reportedly been heavily criticized by the representatives of some countries, reports LTN.
During a session on climate change on Sept. 4, the Chinese delegation reportedly stormed out of the meeting after a tense exchange with the Nauru President.
AP quoted Baron Waqa following the exchange:
“Maybe because he was from a big country he wanted to bully us… (he) insisted, and was very insolent about it, and created a big fuss and held up the meeting of leaders for a good number of minutes when he was only an official.”
Baron Waqa further chastised the Chinese delegate on the PIF floor reportedly saying that China is not an official member, and they had no right to speak at the forum.