Taiwan thanks Tuvalu FM for withdrawing from U.N. forum over China demands

Taiwan thanked Tuvalu's foreign minister Monday for withdrawing from a United Nations conference after China blocked the participation of three Taiwanese members of Tuvalu's delegation.

In a press release, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed gratitude toward Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Kofe after the latter pulled out of the U.N. Ocean Conference opening in Portugal Monday "to show solidarity with Taiwan."

Kofe withdrew from the conference after China challenged the accreditation of three Taiwanese members of Tuvalu's delegation to the conference, which is being held in Lisbon from Monday through Friday.

China, which is on the credentials committee, demanded the removal of Tuvalu's three Taiwanese delegates and threatened to revoke the entire delegation's credentials if they did not comply.

Kofe ultimately decided to remove himself and the three delegates, but he expressed a desire for Tuvalu's remaining delegates to participate in the conference, according to foreign media reports.

According to MOFA, each U.N. member state's delegation has the right to decide its members, and a U.N. credentials committee has no right over the delegation's composition.

MOFA said China's latest pressuring of U.N. member states was "vile in nature."

It added that Taiwan would continue to work closely with its diplomatic allies and like-minded countries to counter the "malign influence" of China at the U.N.

MOFA, however, did not disclose the identity of the three Taiwanese members of Tuvalu's delegation.

Tuvalu is one of 14 states that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The two countries formed official ties in 1979.

Taiwan, whose official name is the Republic of China, lost its U.N. membership in 1971 after its seat was given to the People's Republic of China.

Without a U.N. membership, its citizens are unable to attend U.N. events as representatives of Taiwan.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China spokesperson Zhao Lijian (???), meanwhile, reiterated Beijing's stance that Taiwan is part of China in response to the latest dispute.

"The Taiwan authorities' attempts to squeeze into the United Nations Conference on the Oceans and the Law of the Sea by engaging in petty maneuvers in the international arena or acting as followers of other countries will only serve to demean themselves," he told a daily media briefing in Beijing Monday.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel