Tuvalu’s former PM said he would “never accept communist China” in the Pacific

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Scott Morrison shakes hands with Enele Sopoaga at the Pacific Islands Forum

Tuvalu’s former Prime Minister has said China’s growing presence and influence in the region is “disturbing”, and is an “intrusion”.

“I don’t think I would ever accept a communist country coming to Tuvalu and the Pacific,” Mr. Enele Sopoaga said to the ABC reporter covering a diplomatic event there.

“China can have its own policies and actions that we respect but we must also maintain our own values and principles”, Mr Sopoaga said, referring to a “global understanding based on equality” and democracy.

Mr Sopoaga also added that the decision of other Pacific nations to ditch ties with Taiwan not long after PIF was “unfortunate” and “untimely”.

Tuvalu is now one of only four Pacific Island countries that maintain ties with Taiwan after Solomon Islands and Kiribati formalised diplomatic relations with China last month.

Enele Sopoaga, one of the Pacific’s most vocal leaders, was  Prime Minister when the country hosted the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in August.

Beijing has been known to put pressure on countries that side with Taiwan, for example, placing a ban on Chinese tourists to Palau last year that left hotels empty and an airline in limbo.

September 27, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo encouraged Tuvalu to work with Taiwan to push for democracy in the Pacific region as international media reported that the selection of a new prime minister in the South Pacific country could complicate its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

“We welcome your commitment to advancing our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region with other democracies in the Pacific region including Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Japan,” Pompeo said.
By Winnie Troppie

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