Nobody should tell Palau that it cannot befriend other countries, Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr yesterday told an international news conference, citing pressure from Beijing for Ngerulmud to sever ties with Taipei.
Whipps and his delegation arrived in Taipei on Sunday to celebrate the launch of a Taiwan-Palau “travel corridor” this week, with more than 100 Taiwanese tourists scheduled to leave for Palau on a pilot tour on Thursday.
In addition to the significance of the “travel bubble” with Taiwan, Whipps was asked how he withstood pressure from China on Palau’s diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
“We are a very small country, and we believe it was important to have friends and befriend everyone. We also believe that nobody should tell us that we cannot be somebody else’s friends,” he said.
“A true friend is with you no matter what. Taiwan has always demonstrated the value of our partnership and friendship, and they have been with us through thick and thin. This pandemic is a demonstration of that partnership, where we get together and solve problems,” he said.
While an influx of Chinese tourists in Palau helped boost the local economy, Whipps said they were like a “teaser,” and the country’s tourism dropped after Beijing banned Chinese tourists from visiting the country.
“If you are in a relationship, you don’t beat your partners to make them love you. You should build the relationship on trust and benefit each other, instead of forcing others to play a political game,” Whipps said.
On March 17, Taiwan and Palau jointly announced the creation of the “travel bubble.”
The travel corridor would help put Palau on the path to economic recovery, as 42 percent of workers in Palau’s private sector have been laid off due to the loss of tourism as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Whipps said.
To keep the government running, it had to borrow to cover about 40 percent of its budget, he said.
“It is crucial to keep the economy back on track. We also need to resume regular flights between the two countries so patients with cancer and heart diseases can be treated in Taiwan, instead of having to wait for monthly charter flights,” he said.
“The main reason why we are able to open the corridor to accept foreign visitors from Taiwan is that we have been vaccinated, with 50 percent of our population having received the first dose of the vaccines,” he added.
Palau remains COVID-19 free, with zero cases to date, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said, adding that Taiwan has also been recognized by the international community for its efforts in combating the virus.
“The visit this time carried great significance. They [Whipps and his delegation] are here to launch the two countries’ travel bubble and to witness this important moment. The trip also underlines Taiwan’s and Palau’s anti-epidemic achievements, as well as the close and cordial ties we share. This is a milestone and showcases our relationship amid the pandemic,” Wu said.
Typhoon Chanthu could make landfall as far north as Yilan or Hualien counties late tomorrow night, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday, adding that a land alert could be issued this afternoon or tomorrow morning. The bureau also said that it could possibly issue a sea alert late last night or early this morning. As of 2pm yesterday, Chanthu was 960km southeast of Pingtung County’s Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻). It was moving northwest at 15kph, but was projected to shift northward as it approached the Taiwan Strait due to a weakening Pacific high-pressure system, the bureau said. The bureau is closely monitoring the typhoon,
The Han Kuang exercises, the nation’s major war games, are to start today and run for five days. The drills are to include a military aircraft emergency takeoff and landing exercise on a regular roadway on Wednesday, featuring all three fighter jet models in Taiwan’s fleet, a military source said last week. The drill is to begin at 6:30am on a 3km section of Provincial Highway No. 1 in Pingtung County’s Jiadong Township (佳冬), and feature an Indigenous Defense Fighter, an F-16V, a Mirage 2000-5 and an E-2K Hawkeye early warning aircraft, the source said. The emergency landing and takeoff drill aims to
MRNA VACCINE: Heart inflammation is rare, but possible after a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot, and students need to be aware of possible side effects, an expert said As Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations for students aged 12 to 17 are to begin on campuses on Thursday next week, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday urged recipients to be especially watchful for five signs of possible myocarditis or pericarditis, which are rare adverse reactions to some COVID-19 vaccines. The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices convener Lee Ping-ing (李秉穎) joined the CECC’s daily news briefing to report on possible side effects after receiving a BioNTech vaccine. Lee said that cases of myocarditis and pericarditis have been observed in people in the US who have received mRNA COVID-19
Taiwan on Friday accused China of seeking to use the Honduran election to “create controversy” and undermine Taiwan’s long-standing ties with the country, saying it would strive to win support for Honduras’ relations with Taipei. Honduras’ main left-wing opposition party, the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), led by ousted former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, has said that if it wins November’s presidential election it would seek to “readjust” the country’s debt and establish diplomatic relations with China. Honduras is one of 15 UN member countries that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has already warned Honduras not