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Taipei, May 18 (CNA) Palau will not cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan despite growing pressure from China, Palau President Tommy Remengesau said recently in an interview with a Japanese daily newspaper.

Calling China an “important partner,” Remengesau said he is not opposed to engaging with China in the interview with the Nikkei in Tokyo on Thursday. “If we had a choice, we would like to recognize China and Taiwan tomorrow.”

But as Palau shares common ideals, values and principles such as freedom with Taiwan, the country will “never” cut ties with Taiwan and shift recognition to Beijing on his watch, Remengesau said.

According to media reports, China has stepped up pressure on Palau to sever diplomatic relations with Taiwan and has reportedly banned group tours to the Pacific island nation, dealing a blow to its tourism sector — one of the country’s major industries.

Against such a backdrop, Palau needs to attract more tourists from other countries while still welcoming visitors from China, Remengesau said.

Toward this end, the country seeks both private investment from Japan and government support for investment projects such as construction of hotels, he said.

The diplomatic tug-of-war between Taiwan and China was rekindled after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) assumed power in May 2016.

Tsai and the DPP that she leads refuse to accept the “1992 consensus” — a tacit agreement between Taiwan and China that both belong to “one China,” with each side free to interpret what that means, souring relations across the Taiwan Strait.

On April 30, the Dominican Republic severed relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) after 77 years, leaving the country with only 19 diplomatic allies, including Palau.

(By Flor Wang)
Enditem/AW

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