Taiwan hints at Coast Guard alliance with U.S., Palau

03/30/2021 06:23 PM
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From left: AIT Director Brent Christensen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., Palau first lady Valerie Whipps and U.S. Ambassador to Palau John Hennessey-Niland. CNA photo March 30, 2021
From left: AIT Director Brent Christensen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., Palau first lady Valerie Whipps and U.S. Ambassador to Palau John Hennessey-Niland. CNA photo March 30, 2021

Taipei, March 30 (CNA) A tripartite Coast Guard alliance between Taiwan, Palau and the United States is being formed, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) hinted Tuesday in the presence of American's top envoys in Taiwan and Palau.

The statement was made during a short press availability ahead of Wu's welcome banquet for Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., who is in Taiwan for a five-day visit to promote a "travel bubble" between Taiwan and Palau.

Wu said the three countries already cooperate in other areas through various projects, such as the Pacific Islands Leadership Program and the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, and that could be extended to Coast Guard cooperation.

Taiwan has separate bilateral Coast Guard cooperation arrangements with Palau and the U.S., and they provide the possibility for the three sides to deepen maritime cooperation to help maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region, Wu said.

Wu was referring to Taiwan's Coast Guard cooperation agreement with Palau, signed when President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited the Pacific country in 2019, and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Taiwan and the U.S. signed in Washington D.C. last week to establish a Coast Guard Working Group.

He did not provide any details of what a three-way Coast Guard partnership might entail, but the development came less than two months after China's Coast Guard Law took effect on Feb. 1, which alarmed the region.

The press event was also attended by Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), and John Hennessey-Niland, U.S. ambassador to Palau, who is part of Whipps' delegation.

Christensen said the "travel bubble" and the visit of Whipps reaffirmed the value of the longstanding friendship that binds the U.S., Palau, and Taiwan.

He said the partnership between the three sides includes cooperation to confront shared threats, such as COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and marine debris, preservation of indigenous cultures and the fostering of sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Hennessey-Niland congratulated Taiwan and Palau on the launch of the travel bubble, which is called a "sterile corridor" in Palau, and said he was confident this will further strengthen the close ties and lead to greater people-to-people ties between the two friends of the U.S.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by Taiwan's Foreign Ministry and the AIT after Wu's welcome banquet said the visit of Whipps and Hennessey-Niland reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening U.S.-Taiwan-Palau partnership in many areas, including strengthening Coast Guard cooperation.

"We look forward to continuing and expanding this partnership based on our shared values and common interest in contributing to the free and open Indo-Pacific," the statement said.

(By Chung Yu-chen and Emerson Lim)

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