Palau President initiates ‘travel bubble’ on Taiwan trip

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Palau President Surangel Whipps, Jr. initiated the Taiwan-Palau “travel bubble” in an international press conference on Monday.

President Whipps arrived in Taiwan on a chartered plane on Sunday for a five-day visit.

Whipps emphasized the importance of the travel bubble to boost Palau’s economy and thanked the Taiwanese people for their confidence in Palau’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus.

He said he was delighted to witness the Taiwanese people’s hospitality and looked forward to the follow-up trip.

He never expected to come to Taiwan to hold a press conference and witness the travel bubble.

Taiwan-Palau travel bubble is very important for bilateral exchanges between the two countries.

John Hennessey-Niland, U.S. Ambassador to Palau, also accompanied him to Taiwan to witness the trilateral friendly relations between the United States, Palau and Taiwan.

Whipps said that Palau has been vaccinated since January, and 50% of the people have been vaccinated.

In response to the media’s questions, Whipps admitted that although there was no diagnosis in Palau, the pandemic still greatly impacted Palau with 42% of private-sector employees being dismissed due to its reliance on tourism revenues.

Meanwhile, 40% of the national budget was borrowed to tide over the epidemic crisis.

In response to China’s constant inducements to alienate Palau from Taiwan, Whipps emphasized that Palau has no enemies, no one should tell us who to be friends with, and believe that true friends can stand together, and Taiwan is such a friend.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, all countries should stand together to solve problems together, he said.

He added that he supports Taiwan’s accession to the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other international organizations.