By Benny Avni,
Speakers at this year’s debate week at the United Nations General Assembly peppered much of their oratory with cliches about uniting the world to combat common threats like Covid and climate change. One much overlooked speech, however, used those themes to sneak in a subversive, even heretical message.
Few paid attention to President Surangel Whipps, Jr. of Palau. “Who cares what those small island states have to say?” one might ask. “What do they know about world affairs anyway?”
Except that the president of the Free Chinese republic on Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, was so impressed that she tweeted a video of a long passage from Mr. Whipps’ speech, complete with Chinese subtitles.
After thanking America, Taiwan, Japan, and Australia for sending vaccines and personal protective equipment to his tiny Pacific island country, which helped secure Palau’s record of zero covid deaths and no hospitalizations, Mr. Whipps lobbed this week a rhetorical petard in the General Assembly.
“We would like to highlight the RoC Taiwan’s leadership in the global response against covid 19,” he said. “Not only have they demonstrated consistent and effective management on the pandemic within their borders, but their leadership has also extended to Palau. Taiwan’s international response facilitated cooperation and implementation of an effective sterile travel corridor between Taiwan and Palau. This sterile corridor has allowed Taiwan and Palau to resume medical and educational cooperation, and recoup economic engagement and other benefits of intl travel.”
And then the president went even further, declaring, “We encourage the UN system to accept Taiwan as a valuable contributor to our collective efforts, and strongly advocate for Taiwan’s participation in the UN system.”
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