Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed a pact with Tuvalu, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, on Friday. The agreement should assist the islanders in times of climate change and at the same time send a signal to China.
Source: Reuters, Bloomberg, The Guardian
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With the pact, “Australia recognizes that we are part of the Pacific family,” Albanese said at a news conference in the Cook Islands, where leaders of Pacific states were meeting. He was flanked by Kausea Natano, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, who described the Falepili agreement as ‘a beacon of hope’. Falepili is a Tuvaluan word that refers to neighborliness, care and mutual respect.
Australia will issue special visas to 280 Tuvaluans each year, representing 2.5 percent of the island nation’s 11,200 residents. Funds will also be made available to reclaim land in the capital Funafuti. Tuvalu is one of the states that is at risk of disappearing first due to rising sea levels. At every climate conference, this threat is reminded by ‘fun’ actions by Tuvalu’s leaders.
The full text of the pact has not yet been released, but according to the Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald All residents of Tuvalu will be granted asylum in Australia if their islands become uninhabitable due to climate change.
At the same time, the agreement states that both parties must consult each other before concluding a security agreement with third parties. This agreement is intended as a signal: China is increasingly trying to exert influence over the states in the Pacific Ocean. But Tuvalu is one of only thirteen nations that maintains an official diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, a country not recognized by China. If Tuvalu needs protection or emergency assistance for any reason, it can turn to Australia, Albanese added.