FSM Congress instructs FSM President to make no changes in diplomatic relations with China

The Kaselehlie Press – FSM—On April 4, the FSM Congress adopted resolution 22-200 CD1 CD2 regarding FSM’s Diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. The CD numbers represent the changes from the original form of the resolution as it was originally submitted by Senator Ferny S. Perman as covered in the March 29, 2023 issue of The Kaselehlie Press (see article here). The main thrust of the resolution was to reiterate that the One China Policy is the official policy of the FSM and to instruct the President that he should make no changes in the FSM’s diplomatic policy regarding China.

The main change was that the finalized resolution that Congress passed did not include a mention of requiring President Panuelo to fully brief Congress on all foreign affairs matters. Apparently, Congress did not have the power to make that requirement and so removed it from the original resolution.

The adoption of the resolution came the day after the Congress Standing Committee on External Affairs canceled its hearing on the matter, which had been scheduled to take place on April 3 at 2:00 in the afternoon. The President, who was off island at the time for a meeting of PRIMO (Pacific Risk Management Ohana) but had spent most of the morning in a Zoom conference with Vice President Palik and cabinet members to prepare for the scheduled hearing.

After the hearing was cancelled, President Panuelo wrote a letter to Congress Speaker Senator Wesley Simina providing the talking points he had used for his meeting with the cabinet and the Vice President. He had instructed the Vice President and cabinet members to use the talking points during the hearing, which ended up having been cancelled. They essentially summarized the accusations against China that the President had made in his now internationally wellknown letter of March 9. That letter to FSM’s top elected officials was intended to have been confidential, but the full text very quickly “leaked” to the media from one or possibly more of the letter’s recipients.

The talking points shared with the Speaker added two accusations of notable importance. They said that China had brought weapons into the FSM, likely referring to an incident in Yap, in which FSM Maritime Officers found weapons aboard a vessel that the captain and crew said were there to defend themselves. The other was “China meeting directly with states to subvert policies, including diplomats’ recent trip to Kosrae to tell Governor Palik to go against the letter.”

According to the Congress press officer and press liaison, the planned 2:00 hearing of the External Affairs committee was supposed to have been a public hearing. The Kaselehlie Press, having been instructed during a “public hearing” of another committee that morning that it was not allowed to write about that hearing and that it would be given the results of the hearing, instead sought assurance that the afternoon hearing was indeed public and that the press would be allowed free access. As a result of the incident at the morning hearing, Congress said that it would make an announcement during the April 3 full session as to whether the hearing was public or not. Shortly after noon, the Congress press liaison informed The Kaselehlie Press that the hearing had been cancelled “for now”.

However, at the meeting of the committee of the whole the next morning, Congress voted to pass the resolution affirming the One China policy. Congress sessions are open to the public, as opposed to committee hearings, which are sometimes held behind closed doors. Some officials of the PRC Embassy in the FSM were in attendance at the hearing during which the vote was taken. All of the members voted to pass the resolution.

The first of President Panuelo’s talking points shared with Speaker Simina was, “The FSM’s Foreign Policy is to be a friend to all and an enemy to none, but the FSM’s national interest must always come first.”

His last two were: “I know this topic can make us nervous and scared— but it is the real conversation we must have. There will be no dignity for Micronesia if there is a war in our region, and there will be even less if we find ourselves partly responsible for allowing it to happen by not taking action to prevent it.” And, “I’ve always believed that leaders must be (b)old and to take actions today for our Nation’s prosperity tomorrow.”

Source: The Kaselehlie Press