China has emerged as one of the key players in the Pacific region and at the changing of the guard of Palau’s leadership in January, new President, Surangel Whipps Jr. was expected to concentrate on the pandemic and its economic fallout. Foreign policy was not expected to be an immediate priority.
But even before President Whipps took his oath of office he took a strong stance on China's growing influence in the region.
In an interview in January, a week before he has sworn into office, he said he considered the United States and Taiwan as Palau's "real friends."
Whipps, 52, added Palau will continue to recognise the United States as a steadfast partner against China's "bullying" of smaller nations.
Palau is one of just 15 nations in the world which have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, a number which has dwindled in recent years.
"It’s important for countries to have shared values support each and work together. "There is a competition, yes (between US and China) but that's their competition. It's about what we believe," he said.
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