Likely U.S. envoy to Marshall Islands pledges backing for Taiwan

10/30/2019 01:19 PM
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Roxanne Cabral, nominated U.S. ambassador to the Marshall Islands
Roxanne Cabral, nominated U.S. ambassador to the Marshall Islands

Washington, Oct. 29 (CNA) The nominee to become the United States' ambassador to the Marshall Islands on Tuesday pledged to do her best to help Taiwan keep the Pacific ally after two other countries in the region recently severed ties with Taiwan.

Speaking at her nomination hearing in the U.S. Senate, Roxanne Cabral said the Marshall Islands is one of Taiwan's 15 diplomatic partners and "plays an important role in maintaining stability in cross-Strait relations."

She pledged to work hard to maintain the U.S.'s strong partnership with the Marshall Islands, together with Taiwan, if confirmed as the new ambassador.

Asked what she would do to see that the Marshall Islands remain a close ally of the U.S. and Taiwan, she said pushing back against China would be important.

"If confirmed, I would try to strengthen this relationship, encourage a stronger relationship and help the Marshall Islands create an environment that can push back on predatory economic practices of China that we have been seeing around the world," she said.

Cabral listed ways to support Taiwan and fight the "predatory economic practices" of Beijing as part of Chinese Belt-and-Road Initiative, which the U.S. sees as creating debt traps in many countries around the world that have joined the initiative.

Among the approaches she cited were to increase transparency and expose the "bad deals" while also providing better alternatives and maintaining a strong presence in the region.

Cabral, who is likely to be confirmed, said there were already positive signs that relations remain strong.

The Marshall Islands parliament and president expressed their support for Taiwan after it lost two other Pacific allies in September, and President Hilda Heine just visited Taiwan last week and witnessed the signing of two bilateral agreements, she said.

The career diplomat most recently served as deputy chief of mission and charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Panama. She has also served in Guangzhou, China and speaks Chinese and Spanish, according to the U.S. State Department.

Taiwan lost two Pacific allies, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, to Beijing in September.

The country is now left with 15 allies worldwide, four of which are in the Pacific region: the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, and Tuvalu. Taiwan's National Security Council has warned it could lose more before the January 2020 presidential elections.

(By Stacy Hsu and Joseph Yeh)


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