Large democratic countries should adopt measures to counter China’s bullying of small developing countries, the Palauan Ambassador to Taiwan Dilmei Louisa Olkeriil told the Central News Agency on Monday.

Palau Pacific Airways said earlier this month that it was forced to halt flights to the Pacific Ocean island nation because of a lack of Chinese tourists. They said that China had labelled Palau an “illegal tour destination” and barred its citizens from visiting due to their lack of diplomatic ties.

Palauan Ambassador to Taiwan Dilmei Louisa Olkeriil. Photo: Rti English YouTube screenshot.

Beijing does not recognise any nation that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan and has long pressured the international community to recognise it as a province of China. Palau officially established diplomatic ties with Taiwan in December 1999.

Olkeriil said that international organisations – such as the United Nations and the World Health Assembly – often face pressure from Beijing to distance themselves from Taiwan: “The majority of Palau people support current diplomatic relations with Taiwan and we support our relationship with other democratic countries, like Taiwan.”

Palau Pacific Airways. Photo: Wikicommons.

Olkerii added that hospitals in Taiwan have saved the lives of thousands of Palauan people and, as a result, it would be hard to sever ties with the island nation.

Palau has witnessed a decrease in Chinese tourists in recent years. According to an annual review from the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, there was a 25.3 per cent decrease in tourists from China from 2015 to 2016, compared with 11 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.