Micronesian president accuses China of “political war”.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Micronesia’s president accused China of “political warfare” in a letter to other national leaders and discussed switching diplomatic allegiance from China to Taiwan in exchange for $50 million.

President David Panuelo stated that China used nefarious tactics, including espionage and offering bribes, to ensure that if it went to war with Taiwan, Micronesia would side with China rather than the United States, or at least refrain from occupying it. pages.

Panuelo sent the 13-page letter, dated March 9, obtained by The Associated Press, to state governors and other political leaders in the Pacific nation.

The letter was an unusually frank assessment of China’s motives in the region and revealed financial incentives for smaller countries to switch diplomatic allegiances.

If Micronesia switched 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 believe that our values ​​are currently being used against us,” Panuelo wrote in his letter. “One of the reasons China’s political warfare is successful in so many arenas is that they bribe us to be complicit and they bribe us to keep quiet.”

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He gave examples, saying when the vice president was a senator, the ambassador of China asked him to accept an envelope full of money, which he refused.

China has denied the allegations.

“We have observed the relevant reports in which the slander and accusations against China are completely inconsistent with the facts,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said at a daily briefing on Friday.

“We have always respected Micronesia’s development path, which it has chosen in light of its own national circumstances, and supported the Micronesian side in maintaining independence,” Mao said.

Panuelo gave other examples of what he called China’s “gray zone” activities. He said Chinese research vessels had been spying on Micronesia’s oceanic territory, mapping potential resources and submarine travel routes.

He said that when he traveled to Fiji in July to attend the Pacific Islands Forum, he was followed by two Chinese men who Micronesia discovered were working at the Chinese Embassy in Fiji, including an intelligence officer.

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“To be clear, my personal safety was directly threatened by officials of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) acting in their official capacity,” Panuelo wrote.

He said he met with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu in February and told him that Micronesia would need money for its trust fund if it wanted to switch diplomatic allegiance.

“I was transparent with Foreign Minister Wu; we forecast we need an injection of about $50 million to meet our future needs,” Panuelo wrote. “We can and will get this for three years if and when we establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan.”

Micronesia will also receive an annual $15 million aid package, he said, and Taiwan will take over various projects started in China, including a national convention center, two state government complexes and two gyms.

Panuelo concluded by saying that he loves Micronesia too much not to inform them of the threats and opportunities facing the country, even if writing the letter puts himself, his family and his colleagues at risk.

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Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/micronesias-president-accuses-china-political-warfare-97817543