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Taiwan says ties with Palau remain friendly and stable

TAIPEI (Central News Agency) — The relations between Taiwan and Palau remain friendly and stable, and all bilateral cooperation programs are being carried out smoothly, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs or MOFA said.

Andrew Lee gave his positive overview of bilateral relations in response to a report by Apple Daily in Hong Kong that Palau House of Delegates Speaker Sabino Anastacio predicted his country’s relations with Taiwan could be changed, probably within two years.

Palau has demonstrated its strong support to Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1999 and is something the ministry much appreciates, Lee said.

The MOFA is pushing ahead with all of the cooperation programs between the two countries to further promote the bilateral friendship, and bilateral relations remain “close and friendly,” the spokesman said.

Lee said his ministry respected the opinions expressed by Anastacio and others on the development of relations between Taiwan and Palau and has instructed Taiwan’s embassy in the Pacific nation to increase communications with them and make them aware of Taiwan’s willingness to be a good friend of Palau.

Palau is one of Taiwan’s 17 remaining diplomatic allies, but China has been trying to change that as part of its offensive to poach Taiwan’s allies.

Beijing imposed travel restrictions in November 2017 that prohibited Chinese travel agencies from organizing tour groups to visit Palau, dealing a harsh blow to Palau’s economy.

China is the largest source of tourists in Palau with Chinese visitors accounting for nearly half of the roughly 130,000 foreign visitors to the Pacific nation a year, official statistics show.