U.S. backs allies’ support for Taiwan at regional leaders summit

In this file photo, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, meets with Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, at the Department of State in Washington. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

TAIPEI (CNA) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Taiwan as a democratic success story, as well as the decision by some of Taiwan’s allies to support the country, in a statement read at the two-day 19th Micronesia Presidents Summit that opened in Palau on Feb. 22.

In the written statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu one day before the summit opened, Pompeo first highlighted a commitment to democracy and open societies, which he described as values shared by the U.S. and five nations in Micronesia.

“Taiwan is also a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world,” Pompeo noted.

“As Vice President Mike Pence said, America will always believe Taiwan’s embrace of democracy is an example to be internationally supported. We respect and support the decision those of you have made to continue to support Taiwan,” he said.

The Micronesia Presidents Summit was attended by the heads of state of Palau, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Nauru. Apart from Micronesia, all those nations maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Pompeo’s statement came as China beefs up its efforts to gain dominance in the South Pacific region and was regarded as the U.S.

government’s intention to remind the Pacific nations of the value of continuing to maintain formal ties with Taiwan, according to a Voice of America report broadcast Thursday that cited unnamed diplomatic sources in Washington.

The report also quoted a political observer as saying that in addition to U.S. National Security Advisor John R. Bolton, there are a number of Taiwan supporters on the White House National Security Council.

When Pompeo emphasized the U.S. respect and support for the decision to continue to support Taiwan, he may have been “reminding” those possibly considering breaking ties with Taiwan, according to the report.

Since Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party took office as Republic of China (Taiwan) president in May 2016, five countries have switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing, leaving a mere 17 nations that maintain formal relations with Taiwan.

These diplomatic allies include six in the South Pacific region — Palau, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

By Elizabeth Hsu