In a letter to other national leaders, Micronesia’s president accused China of “political warfare” and discussed switching diplomatic allegiance from China to Taiwan in exchange for $50 million.
President David Panuelo has said that if China were to go to war with Taiwan, Micronesia would side with China, not the United States, or at least avoid accepting it, using nefarious tactics, including espionage and bribery. sides.
Panuelo sent a 13-page letter dated March 9 to state governors and other Pacific Rim political leaders, according to The Associated Press.
The letter offered a particularly candid assessment of China’s motives in the region and revealed financial incentives to shift diplomatic allegiance to smaller countries.
If Micronesia switches allegiance to Taiwan, it would be a rare victory for the self-governing island after several Pacific nations switched allegiance from Taiwan to China in recent years.
“I feel that our values are being used against us now,” Panuelo wrote in his letter. “One of the reasons why China’s political warfare has been successful in so many arenas is because of bribes to be complicit, bribes to keep quiet.”
He cited examples and said that when the vice president was a senator, the Chinese ambassador asked him to receive an envelope filled with money, which he refused.
China has denied the allegations.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said at a briefing on Friday: “We have pointed out relevant reports of slander and accusations against China that are completely inconsistent with the facts.
“We have always respected the path of development chosen by Micronesia due to its own national circumstances and supported the Micronesian side for independence,” Mao said.
Panuelo gave other examples of China’s “grey zone” actions. He said Chinese research vessels were working to spy on Micronesia’s ocean territory by mapping potential resources and submarine routes.
He said that when he traveled to Fiji to attend the Pacific Islands Forum in July, he was followed by two Chinese men, who Micronesia discovered worked for the Chinese embassy in Fiji and were intelligence officers.
“To be clear: PRC (People’s Republic of China) officials acting in an official capacity have directly threatened my personal safety,” Panuelo wrote.
He said that in February he met with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and told him that if he were to switch diplomatic allegiances, Micronesia would need money for a trust fund.
“I was open with Foreign Minister Wu; We estimate that an injection of approximately $50 million is required to meet our future needs,” Panuelo wrote. “If we establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan, we can and will have it within three years.”
Micronesia will also receive a $15 million annual aid package, he said, and Taiwan will undertake various Chinese-led projects, including a national convention center, two state government complexes and two gymnasiums.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry declined to comment on the specifics of Panuelo’s letter.
“Taiwan shares the core values of democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law with like-minded countries in the Pacific region,” the ministry said in a statement. “As a responsible member of the Indo-Pacific region, we will continue to work hand in hand with like-minded countries around the world.”
Panuelo said he loves Micronesia too much, saying that even though writing the letter puts him, his family and his staff at risk, he doesn’t inform them of the dangers and opportunities the country faces.