SOURCE: Joydeep Ghosh / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Palau or the Republic of Palau is an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean. The country contains approximately 340 islands, forming the western chain of the Caroline Islands in Micronesia, and has an area of 466 sq kms (180 sq mi). The most populous island is Koror. The capital Ngerulmud is on the nearby island of Babeldaob, in Melekeok State. Palau shares maritime boundaries with the Philippines, Indonesia, and the Federated States of Micronesia. So how can India beat China.
Fact is Palau is one of the few nations in the world that has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, that makes China squirm. Late last year, China effectively banned tour groups to the idyllic tropical archipelago, branding it an illegal destination.
In the commercial centre of Koror, the Chinese pullback is obvious. Hotel and restaurants stand empty, travel agencies are boarded and boats which take tourists to Palau’s green, mushroom shaped Rock Islands are docked at piers. Palau is a tourist paradise but is paying the price of standing upto China.
China’s Cunning Acts
India must not forget the fact that China played dirty tricks with India in the Pacific Island of Fiji. First it fomented tension between Indians and indigenous people. Then China brought in its cheap products flooding the Fiji markets. This meant Indians who mostly did business were forced out of business in Fiji and many relocated to Australia, New Zealand and USA. Cunning China then quietly sent its people and now Suva, capital of Fiji is flooded with Chinese businessmen who replaced India and Indians.
And we all know what China is doing in Maldives, it has turned the government against India and its people too. Maldives is now hell bent to destroying its relations with India and allow China in full throttle this is evident from the fact that now the tourist destinations mostly remain jam packed with Chinese tourist. In all probability after Maldives asked India to take back its helos, in all probability, the time is not far when it asks Indians working in hotels/resorts to leave replacing them with Chinese workers.
So What Can India Do
Through Palau India can easily hit back at China by giving incentives to tourist to go to Palau instead of Maldives. Though its couple of hours distance from Singapore that is 5 hours away the travel is worth it, as it is much better tourist destination than Maldives with lots of adventure activities.
India can send its people to work in Palau, and with increase in Indian tourist help it beat back China at its own game. This way India can hit China by withdrawing tourists from Maldives and pushing more tourist in Pacific hereby expanding its influence in Pacific Islands and beat China the same way it what it did in Fiji. India needs to expand its influence in the Pacific Islands if it wants to stand up to China.