dispute in the Pacific continues to rage with the president of the island nation of Nauru demanding an apology from China over a Chinese diplomat who he has called “insolent,” a “nobody,” and “crazy.”he David vs. Goliath
This week, Nauru is hosting the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), an annual gathering of leaders of 18 countries in the Pacific along with delegations from other nations with interests in the area, including the United States and China. This year’s forum has gone down as easily the most explosive in the event’s half-century history with the background issue of Taiwan becoming the main source of contention.
At this time, just 17 countries around the world still have official ties with Taiwan, six of them are PIF members, including Nauru.
The fireworks began even before the start of the conference with Nauru attempting to force the Chinese delegation to enter the country on their personal passports, rather than their diplomatic ones. The move drew threats of a boycott from other attendees with ties to Beijing. Eventually, Nauru backed down.
However, things quickly heated up again on the first day of the summit in a closed-door meeting where Nauru’s President Baron Waqa stopped Du Qiwen, the leader of China’s delegation, from speaking, insisting that he should not try to talk before the prime minister of Tuvalu.
Outraged, Du reportedly stormed out of the meeting, but not before taking a lap around the conference table to properly emphasize his displeasure with the proceedings.
At a press conference afterward, Waqa had some harsh words for Du, calling him “insolent” and accusing him of attempting to bully his tiny island nation, which has population of just 11,000 people.
Waqa continued to voice his outrage with Du on the following day, calling the Chinese diplomat, who serves as China’s ambassador to Fiji, a “nobody” and “crazy,” demanding that Beijing issue an official apology for his “bullying” behavior:
They’re not our friends. They just need us for their own purposes. Sorry, but I have to be strong on this because no one is to come and dictate things to us.
We’re seeing a lot of big countries coming in and sometimes buying their way through the Pacific, some are extremely aggressive, even to the point that they tread all over us. From this forum, all leaders [now] know how arrogant some of these people are.
We won’t just seek an apology, we’ll even take it up to the UN. Not only that, I will mention it at the UN and every international meeting.
China and Taiwan are currently waging a costly diplomatic war in the Pacific, using grants and aid funding to vie for the favor of the tiny island nations located there. Most of the buildings used to host the forum were built or refurbished using Taiwanese money.
Meanwhile, Beijing pledged to give a whopping $4 billion in aid to the region last year, an amount which will make it the region’s largest donor, surpassing Australia who has long-considered the South Pacific its own backyard. Earlier this week, China’s foreign ministry accused Nauru of “violating international norms” and putting on a “clumsy farce” of an event.