søndag 16. september 2018

Palau, a tiny Pacific island, standing up to China

Wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sipping an iced tea, Ongerung Kambes Kesolei sits at a veranda bar overlooking a hotel pool, under fans that slowly push humid air around on a quiet Sunday afternoon. But the calm of the scene is deceptive, for Kesolei is explaining that his small island home of Palau – a dot on the map in the north-west corner of the Pacific with a population of just over 20,000 people – has attracted the ire of one of the world’s most powerful nations and is now at the centre of a geo-political bunfight.

“They [China] want to weaken Tsai Ing-wen [the Taiwanese president] and that’s where Palau comes into play,” said Kesolei, the editor of one of Palau’s two newspapers. Palau is one of just 17 countries that has refused to give up diplomatic relations with Taiwan and switch allegiance to China.