Taipei, July 4 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed gratitude toward Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. on Monday for his pro-Taiwan remarks at a recently-concluded United Nations conference, after China blocked the participation of Taiwanese members of the Palau and Tuvalu delegations to the event.
In a Facebook post, MOFA thanked Whipps Jr. for his "impassioned remarks at the Ocean Conference 2022, calling for all countries, including Taiwan to work together on preserving #LifeUnderWater and fighting ocean pollution."
The ministry also thanked the leader of the Pacific island for showcasing a T-shirt he was wearing for the occasion, stressing that it was made in Taiwan from discarded plastic bottles collected in Palau.
"Although we condemn China for bringing pressure on our Pacific allies Palau and Tuvalu to make changes to their list of delegates, Taiwan will continue to work with our partners and allies around the world to combat the pollution of our oceans and to make progress towards the #30by30 goal," said the post.
The "30by30 goal" refers to a worldwide initiative for governments to designate 30 percent of Earth's land and ocean area as protected areas by 2030.
Speaking during the opening of the U.N. Ocean Conference on June 27 held in Lisbon, Portugal, Whipps Jr. said his country had taken "bold steps to protect our oceans."
"However, we cannot do it alone. We must all act together. We need all humanity, including the 23 million in Taiwan to be part of the solution," he said.
"The shirt that I'm wearing today is an example of innovative solution addressing pollution, it was made from recycled plastic bottles collected in Palau and turn into this beautiful shirt in Taiwan," he said.
Whipps Jr.'s comments were made after China blocked the participation of Taiwanese members of the delegations of Palau and Tuvalu to the U.N. conference held until July 1.
Both Palau and Tuvalu are diplomatic allies of Taiwan, officially named the Republic of China (ROC), which lost its U.N. membership in 1971 after its seat was given to the People's Republic of China.
Without a U.N. membership, ROC citizens are unable to attend U.N. events as representatives of Taiwan.
China, which was on the U.N. conference's credentials committee, demanded the removal of Tuvalu and Palau's Taiwanese delegates and threatened to revoke both delegations' credentials if they did not comply.
As a protest, Tuvalu Foreign Minister Simon Kofe, who was originally leading the delegation, ultimately decided to remove himself and the Taiwanese delegates, while other members of the Tuvalu delegation stayed. The Taiwanese delegates in Palau's delegation also left.
During the event's closing ceremony, Ambassador Ilana Seid, Palau's representative to the U.N., launched a protest against China's bullying. "The U.N. has excluded the 23 million people of Taiwan from the conversation," Seid said.
"They were not given badges and were not allowed to be part of our delegation simply because they hold Taiwanese passports," she said.
"We view this as a violation of our sovereign rights...ocean issues are global issues and we call on all of us to work together without discrimination," she added.
Showing support to Taiwan, a United States delegate also said during the closing ceremony that it was a "long-standing practice that each member state can decide the composition of its delegation."
It was up to Palau and Tuvalu to decide whether or not to include people from Taiwan, the delegate said. "No credential committee should have pressed them to remove those individuals from their delegations."
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Taiwan thanks Palau leader for supportive remarks at U.N. forum