Updated: Sep 24, 2021
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. has endorsed Taiwan's membership in the United Nations amid China's persistent campaign to block its renegade province's acceptance into the intergovernmental body.
"We encourage the UN system to accept Taiwan as a valuable contributor to our collective efforts and strongly advocate for Taiwan’s participation in the UN system," Whipps said at the UN General Assembly's 76th Session.
Palau is among the 15 UN member-states that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
In his remarks, Whipps highlighted Taiwan’s contribution to the global response against Covid-19.
"Not only have they demonstrated consistent and effective management of the pandemic within their borders, but their leadership has also extended to Palau," Whipps said. "Taiwan’s international response facilitated cooperation and implementation of an effective sterile travel corridor between Taiwan and Palau."
The travel bubble between Palau and Taiwan, which was forged during Whipps' visit to Taipei in March, went into effect last month.
"This sterile corridor has allowed Taiwan and Palau to resume medical and educational cooperation, and recoup economic engagement and other benefits of international travel," Whipps said.
Palau's diplomatic relations with Taiwan prompted China to ban state-run package tours from visiting the Pacific nation in 2017.
China was previously Palau's main source market. The travel ban, which resulted in a dramatic decline in Palau tourism, was viewed as Beijing's attempt to pressure the Pacific nation into ditching Taiwan and embracing a one-China policy.
Whipps has been open about his mistrust of China, vowing not to succumb to the communist nation's bullying.
In 1971, a UN resolution excluded Taiwan under the premise that China is "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations."
Taiwan was a founding member of the UN in 1949 until it was replaced by China in 1971.
In 2007, the UN rejected Taiwan's bid to join the UN, maintaining that "Taiwan is part of China."
In this year’s campaign for UN participation, Taiwan is seeking its allies' support in conveying to the international community the Taiwanese' aspiration to take part in the UN system, and "to show that Taiwan is ready, willing, and able to work jointly with the rest of the world and contribute to UN efforts toward recovery at this critical time," according to a statement from Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
The Taiwanese government has asked diplomatic allies to speak up for Taiwan at the General Debate and to write to UN Secretary-General António Guterres urging him to uphold the principles set forth in the UN Charter and to address the issue of the long-term exclusion of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people from the UN system. Taiwan is calling on the UN to 1) immediately address the "unjustified exclusion" of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people from the UN system; 2) immediately rectify its discriminatory policy against Taiwanese passport holders; and 3) ensure that Taiwan is afforded the right to participate in an equal and dignified manner in meetings, mechanisms, and activities related to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and thus make greater contributions. "Gaining participation in the United Nations is a long-term undertaking. Despite formidable challenges, international support for Taiwan’s bid has continued to gain momentum thanks to the combined efforts of the government and civil society over many years," MOFA said.