Palau politician predicts switch from Taiwan to China within two years

Palau House of Delegates speaker wants more Chinese tourists to visit the island

  2932
Palau House of Delegates Speaker Sabino Anastacio (left) visiting President Tsai Ing-wen last year.

Palau House of Delegates Speaker Sabino Anastacio (left) visiting President Tsai Ing-wen last year. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - The Pacific island nation of Palau might switch recognition from Taiwan to China within two years, despite standing by Taipei against a Chinese tourism boycott, reports said Saturday.

Since last year, the number of Chinese tourists to Palau has shown a sharp drop, even forcing an airline out of business, as Beijing was angry over the Pacific island state’s refusal to switch diplomatic relations and banned Chinese tour operators from sending groups over.

Since 2016, five countries have been lured away by China, often with promises of wide-ranging investments which later turn out to be largely empty. Taiwan now still has 17 official allies, including Palau.

Even though Palau stood by Taiwan to face down the tourist boycott, the situation might change within two years, according to statements by Palau House of Delegates Speaker Sabino Anastacio.

The politician said the agreement signed with Taiwan in 1999 had outlived its usefulness, the Liberty Times reported. He added that Palau wanted more Chinese tourists to visit and more flights from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Asked whether a switch in diplomatic relations was possible, Anastacio said it might happen and probably would not take two years before occurring.

According to a report by Radio New Zealand, the house speaker was present at the groundbreaking last August of Palau’s largest holiday resort, developed by a Chinese group, where he made similar remarks.