‘They’re not our friends. They just need us for their own purposes’: A tiny island nation stands up to China

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Yaren (Nauru): Nauru, an island nation with a population of just 11,000 people and covering an area of 21 square kilometres (eight square miles), has dared to stand up to China. The Pacific island country’s president has demanded that the Chinese leadership apologise for the “crazy” behaviour of a senior diplomat displayed at the Pacific Islands Forum.President Baron Waqa dubbed the Chinese presence in the Pacific region as “arrogant”. “They’re not our friends. They just need us for their own purposes,” President Waqa told reporters. “Sorry, but I have to be strong on this because no one is to come and dictate things to us,” he added. It may be noted that Nauru supports Taiwan in its battle with arch-rival China for diplomatic recognition.
News agency AFP reported that the annual Pacific summit, which concluded in Nauru on Thursday, will be remembered as one of the most contentious in its 49-year history. The acrimony between the host nation and China was such that it overshadowed the routine discussions on climate change. How China treats asylum-seekers detained on the island as part of an agreement with Australia was also a talking point at the summit.The row started on Tuesday when Du Qiwen, who was leading the Chinese delegation, tried to speak at the meeting but President Waqa asked him to wait until island leaders had finished. This infuriated the Chinese delegation which stormed out. Du was seen striding around the room to express his displeasure, AFP reported.”Would he behave like that in front of his own president? I doubt it,” Waqa said at a press conference on Wednesday. “He disrespected the Pacific, the forum island leaders and other ministers who have come to join us in our territory. Are you kidding? Look at him, he’s a nobody.”He’s not even a minister and he’s demanding to be recognised and to speak before the prime minister of Tuvalu. Is he crazy?” he added.”We’re seeing a lot of big countries coming in and sometimes buying their way through the Pacific, some are extremely aggressive, even to the point that they tread all over us,” Waqa said. “From this forum, all leaders (now) know how arrogant some of these people are.””We won’t just seek an apology, we’ll even take it up to the UN. Not only that, I will mention it at the UN and every international meeting,” the President stated.China had refused to issue an apology. “I want to sternly warn Nauru, and whomever is behind this farce: the ‘one China’ principle is an unstoppable historical trend,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.