As we noted in our guide to China, Taiwan, and the Pacific islands (Access members), China was sure to be an issue for the members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), which began a meeting hosted by the island nation of Narau yesterday. The 18 members of PIF include the independent Pacific island nations, the French Pacific territories, Australia, and New Zealand. Of the 17 countries that still have diplomatic ties to Taiwan, six are PIF members.
- “China’s representative to today’s partner dialogue at the Pacific Islands Forum stormed out of the meeting, after a tense exchange with Forum chair, President Baron Waqa of Nauru,” reports Islands Business. “The incident shocked delegates to the regional meeting, as the Chinese delegation sought unsuccessfully to address the session on climate change.”
- The reason for the walkout: “In an apparent bid to tweak the nose of Chinese delegates, Nauru refused to stamp entry visas into their diplomatic passports, instead saying it would only process their personal passports,” says Agence France-Presse.
- Leaders of some other Pacific Island nations were displeased: Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi sent a letter to Nauru President Baron Waqa threatening warning: “Your unilateral action as President of Nauru is a dangerous precedent that I believe may not be accepted by forum leaders.”
- Separately, Nauru President Baron Waqa scolded a Chinese official who demanded to be heard when other leaders were due to speak: “Maybe because he was from a big country he wanted to bully us,” said Waqa, according to the Associated Press. Waqa says that the Chinese official “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.”