China-Taiwan Weekly Update, February 29, 2024

China-Taiwan Weekly Update, February 29, 2024

Authors: Matthew Sperzel, Daniel Shats, and Joseph Su of the Institute for the Study of War

Editors: Dan Blumenthal and Frederick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute

Data Cutoff: February 29 at 11am ET

The China–Taiwan Weekly Update focuses on the Chinese Communist Party’s paths to controlling Taiwan and relevant cross–Taiwan Strait developments.

Key Takeaways:

  • The PRC Coast Guard patrolled prohibited and restricted waters around Taiwan-controlled Kinmen, likely as part of a PRC strategy to assert sovereignty over the island.
  • The PRC has increased deployments of research vessels in Taiwan’s contiguous zone to assert its territorial claims over Taiwan.
  • The Kuomintang chose defense obstructionist Ma Wen-chun to co-chair the Foreign and National Defense Committee of the Legislative Yuan. Ma proposed 135 cuts or freezes to Taiwan’s defense budget during 2023.
  • CCP rhetoric regarding Taiwan signals a redoubling of efforts to exert pressure on the ROC under the DPP's renewed mandate.
  • The PRC’s recent national security policy initiatives reflect the CCP’s growing threat perception of security risks to classified and sensitive information in the fraught geopolitical climate.
  • The Chinese Coast Guard has continued efforts to assert control over Scarborough Shoal. It erected a floating barrier and intercepted vessels that belong to the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
  • The PRC is pursuing security cooperation with Kiribati to increase its security foothold in the Pacific Islands.

Cross-Strait Relations

The PRC Coast Guard entered and patrolled prohibited and restricted waters around Taiwan-controlled Kinmen, likely as part of a PRC strategy to assert sovereignty over the island. The Fujian branch of the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) announced that it had conducted law enforcement patrols around Kinmen on February 25.[1] PRC state media Global Times cited an “anonymous professional” who claimed the CCG entered the “restricted zone” around Kinmen island.[2] Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration (CGA) did not confirm or deny the incursion.[3] ROC Ocean Affairs Council Minister Kuan Bi-ling stated that five CCG marine surveillance ships entered Kinmen’s “restricted zone” on February 26, however, including one that crossed into Kinmen’s “prohibited zone.” The total number of CCG ships around Kinmen increased to 11 on February 27, including two that entered Kinmen’s “restricted zone.”[4]

Taiwan does not claim any territorial waters around Kinmen partly due to its proximity to the PRC, but it designates “prohibited” and “restricted” waters around Kinmen which it treats as equivalent to territorial waters and a contiguous zone. Taiwan authorizes its coast guard to search and detain foreign vessels entering its prohibited waters. PRC authorities have said they do not recognize any “restricted” or “prohibited” waters around Kinmen because they claim that Kinmen, like all of Taiwan, is the territory of the PRC.[5] Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council has said that the PRC has tacitly abided by Kinmen’s claimed maritime boundaries until now, however.[6]

The latest PRC incursions into waters around Kinmen are part of an ongoing dispute over an incident on February 14 in which a Taiwanese Coast Guard vessel collided with a PRC fishing boat while chasing the boat out of Kinmen’s prohibited waters, resulting in the deaths of two of the four fishermen. The PRC blamed Taiwan for the deaths and has responded by repeatedly deploying CCG patrols into waters around Kinmen and Matsu, two Taiwan-controlled island groups situated very close to the coast of the PRC.[7] The CCG detained and boarded a Taiwanese tourism vessel near Kinmen on February 19.[8] The PRC state-owned Global Times said the CCG activities signal the normalization of law enforcement patrols in the waters near Kinmen and Xiamen, the PRC city near Kinmen, and that Taiwan’s government has no right to intervene.[9]

The PRC is taking advantage of the crisis instigated by the deaths of the fishermen to assert sovereignty over Kinmen and Matsu through law enforcement activities in the adjacent waters. Its actions also represent an increased pressure campaign against Taiwan ahead of Lai Ching-te’s May 20 inauguration as president of Taiwan. The PRC’s law enforcement activities in Kinmen’s waters may embolden it to attempt such tactics around other Taiwanese offshore islands such as Matsu and Penghu.

ROC Ocean Affairs Council Minister Kuan Bi-ling said the ships on February 26 left after the CGA broadcast a warning. She called the incursion “a clearly politicized attempt to exert sovereignty claims.”[10] Kuan noted Taiwanese media speculation that the PRC intends to impose a “Diaoyu” model in the waters around Kinmen, a move that Kuan said was unacceptable.[11] The CCG regularly patrols in waters around the Japan-administered Diaoyu islands (called Senkaku in Japanese) to assert PRC sovereignty over the islands. Taiwan Minister of Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng said on the same day that Taiwan’s military would not consider CCG vessels in Kinmen’s restricted waters a threat as long as they do not approach too close to land forces.[12] The CGA said it would not adjust patrols around Kinmen and would not do anything to escalate the situation further.[13]

The PRC Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesperson condemned Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government on February 28 for allegedly lying about and concealing the facts of the incident and for not apologizing.[14] She accused Kuan Bi-ling by name of handling the incident as a “personal political performance,” concealing the truth, shifting blame, telling lies, failing to apologize, and setting up “obstacles” in the aftermath.[15]

The Kinmen fishermen incident has become increasingly politicized in Taiwan as Kuomintang officials have criticized the CGA and DPP administration’s handling of the matter. Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers criticized the CGA for mishandling the incident on February 14, failing to record video footage of the event, and allegedly concealing the facts about the cause of the fishermen’s deaths.[16] The CGA confirmed that the capsizing of the PRC fishing boat was caused by a collision with a CGA vessel on February 22, over a week after the incident occurred, but denied that it was trying to conceal information.[17] The February 14 incident and resulting opposition criticism of the CGA promotes public perceptions that the CGA is incompetent and untrustworthy. The propagation of this narrative threatens to undermine Taiwanese confidence in Taiwan’s ability to control its waters, especially if Taiwanese people perceive that their government is unable or unwilling to repel CCG encroachment in Taiwan’s waters.

KMT Deputy Chairman Andrew Hsia’s visit to the PRC may legitimize a back channel for ROC-PRC negotiations as official negotiations on Kinmen have not reached a consensus. Taiwanese officials led by CGA deputy director-general Hsu Ching-chih conducted five days of closed-door negotiations on with a PRC delegation, including a Red Cross official and family members of the deceased fishermen. The PRC representatives demanded the CGA apologize, pay compensation, and reveal the full truth of what happened in the incident. The negotiations failed to produce results as of February 29, however.[18]

KMT Deputy Chairman Andrew Hsia began a seven-day trip to the PRC on February 26 with the stated purpose of visiting Taiwanese people living and working there. He said he would not pass up the opportunity to meet PRC officials if the opportunity arose, however. Hsia called for the DPP government to find a channel for dialogue with the PRC to deescalate tensions. He acknowledged that the KMT has its own channels for negotiation with the PRC, but said the party was not authorized to negotiate on behalf of Taiwan since it is not the ruling party.[19] Hsia met with TAO director Song Tao in Shanghai on February 29. He offered condolences for the deaths of the two fishermen and said he would urge the DPP to properly handle the issue. Song said the PRC will never tolerate the DPP’s “atrocious behavior” that ignores the safety of mainland fishermen’s lives. He said Beijing was willing to work with the KMT to “meet each other halfway,” promote cross-strait relations, oppose Taiwanese independence, and promote “national reunification.” Song and Hsia both said they were willing to maintain dialogue on the common basis of the 1992 Consensus and opposition to Taiwanese independence.[20] Hsia is a former director of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council. He has repeatedly traveled to the PRC and met top PRC Taiwan Affairs officials in his capacity as the KMT’s deputy chairman, including during Taiwan’s 2024 election.[21]

Hsia’s visit to the PRC amid unsuccessful DPP-led negotiations in Kinmen may enable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to further legitimize the KMT in contrast with the DPP as a negotiator on Taiwan’s behalf. The CCP cut off formal contacts with Taiwan’s government when ROC President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016. The party refuses to have a dialogue with the DPP directly because the DPP does not recognize the “1992 Consensus.”[22] This is why the PRC side of the Kinmen negotiation is represented by a Red Cross official. The 1992 Consensus is an alleged verbal agreement between semi-official representatives of the PRC and the then KMT-ruled ROC following negotiations in 1992. It states that both sides agree there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China. The CCP interprets this “one China” to be the People’s Republic of China, however, while the KMT interprets it to be the Republic of China.

The PRC has increased deployments of research vessels in Taiwan’s contiguous zone to assert its territorial claims over Taiwan. The Financial Times published a report based on ship tracking data that the PRC has sent nine research vessels to waters within 24 nautical miles of Taiwan since September 2023. There were only two such incursions during each of the past three years. One research vessel, the unmanned drone carrier Zhu Hai Yun which the PRC began operating in January 2023, sailed the full length of Taiwan’s east coast in November 2023. The US-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies reported that the Zhu Hai Yun has ties to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and that the unmanned surface, undersea, and aerial vehicles it carries can be used to conduct military reconnaissance in addition to scientific marine surveys. The Da Yang, another PRC research vessel, operated off Taiwan’s east coast on February 15-17.[23]

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) grants each country the right to restrict transit within its territorial waters, which extend 12 nautical miles from its coast. It further defines a contiguous zone between 12 and 24 nm from the coast, within which each country can exert the control needed to prevent or punish the infringement of its laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea.[24] The PRC considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and denies that Taiwan’s government has legitimate control over any adjacent waters. However, the deployment of scientific and other non-military vessels within Taiwan’s contiguous zone is a means of testing Taiwan’s response and gradually normalizing PRC presence around Taiwan. The PRC uses such tactics in tandem with near-daily air and naval violations of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), Chinese Coast Guard patrols near Kinmen and Matsu, adjustment of civilian flight routes to fly closer to Taiwan, and balloon flights through Taiwan’s airspace to wear down Taiwan’s threat awareness and resources, forcing it to be selective in which perceived incursions it chooses to respond to. Blurring the lines between military and civilian activities also has the effect of making it more difficult for Taiwan to determine which activities are potential threats.

The CCP will add two additional flights along a sensitive civil air route over the Taiwan Strait likely to further strain Taiwan’s resources and air defense response time. The TAO spokesperson confirmed on February 28 that the PRC would add two new civilian flights connecting to route M503, which flies a few kilometers from the median line of the Taiwan Strait.[25] The PRC unilaterally adjusted route M503 on February 1 to fly closer to the median line. Taiwan at the time decried the move as unsafe and responded by canceling plans to resume Taiwanese group tours to the PRC on March 1.[26] The new flight paths will increase PRC air traffic near the median line.

The PRC has stated that it does not recognize the existence of any “median line” in the Taiwan Strait. Chieh Chung, a senior analyst at the KMT-affiliated National Policy Foundation, said that moving flight routes closer to the median line will allow PRC aircraft to more quickly change course to cross the median line, shortening Taiwan’s air defense response time. He also said military planes may fly along the same routes. Increasing the volume of both civilian and military flights in the sensitive area likewise serves to strain Taiwanese resources as Taiwan must monitor, assess, and prepare to respond to each potential incursion.[27]

CCP rhetoric regarding Taiwan signals a redoubling of efforts to exert pressure on the ROC under the DPP's renewed mandate. Top Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning called for the need to “fight” so-called Taiwanese independence and contain foreign interference during the annual Taiwan Work Conference on February 23.[28] Wang’s speech took on a distinctly bellicose tone compared to last year’s conference, which used relatively modest language urging “opposition” to Taiwanese separatism.[29] Wang’s speech this year also made more references to unification compared to previous years, illustrating the CCP’s hardening resolve to take possession of Taiwan. Wang is Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a foremost United Front work organization, as well as deputy leader of the Central Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs. These roles make him one of the top CCP officials responsible for overseeing the PRC’s policy toward Taiwan. He is also a leading CCP ideological theorist and policy architect who has accrued significant influence as a trusted advisor to CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping. Wang led an interagency meeting in December to coordinate and camouflage the PRC’s efforts to influence Taiwan’s elections, according to a Taiwanese intelligence leak of the top-secret meeting.[30] President-elect Lai Ching-te’s victory in Taiwan’s January elections represents a failure of the PRC’s influence operations. Lai’s election is a logical impetus for Wang’s stronger language, galvanizing a defiant response from CCP leadership. Wang’s rhetoric indicates the PRC will intensify efforts to erode Taiwan’s sovereignty and curb international support to help Taiwan resist pressure.


The Kuomintang (KMT) chose defense obstructionist Ma Wen-chun to co-chair the Foreign and National Defense Committee of the Legislative Yuan. The Foreign and National Defense Committee is the legislative standing committee responsible for legislation related to Taiwan’s policies and spending on defense and foreign affairs.[31] Standing committees have the authority to conduct budget reviews, make recommendations to the Legislative Yuan (LY) based on reviews of draft legislation, and summon officials from relevant agencies to respond to inquiries. Ma Wen-chun is a KMT legislator who has served in the LY since 2009. She is known as one of the biggest obstructionists of Taiwan’s defense spending in the LY, having proposed 135 cuts or freezes to the defense budget during 2023, including to Taiwan’s Haikun submarine program.[32] Ma is under criminal investigation due to a scandal in 2023 when several legislators publicly accused her of leaking classified information about the submarine program to South Korea and the PRC to hinder the submarine’s completion.[33]

The KMT’s selection of Ma to co-chair the legislative committee in charge of defense spending indicates its intent to obstruct what they view as “excessive” defense spending in the new legislative session. The KMT and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) hold divergent views on defense policy, with the former advocating for a comparatively modest approach that seeks to de-escalate tensions with the PRC. The KMT has consistently criticized President Tsai Ing-wen’s DPP administration for excessive defense spending.

DPP legislator Wang Ting-yu will serve as the other co-chair of the 13-member Foreign and National Defense Committee. The allocation of committee membership is proportional based on each party’s overall representation in the LY. The KMT and DPP are nearly tied in the LY with 52 and 51 seats, respectively. KMT Speaker of the LY Han Kuo-yu and Deputy Speaker Johnny Chiang will also be part of the Foreign and National Defense Committee. The minority Taiwan People’s Party, which holds eight seats in the legislature, voted for Ma and the KMT’s other candidates for co-chair in all eight standing committees.[34]


The PRC’s recent national security policy initiatives reflect the CCP’s growing threat perception of security risks to classified and sensitive information in the fraught geopolitical climate. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) adopted a revised State Secrets Law on February 27 that broadens the scope of information that will be treated as confidential.[35] The law strengthens the confidentiality of so-called “work secrets,” privileged information that is not explicitly designated as a state secret but could undermine national security if leaked, especially information related to sensitive technology.[36] The law also restricts government employees with access to classified information from traveling overseas without prior approval. The unnamed head of the PRC’s National Administration of State Secret Protection spoke to reporters on February 28 about the revised law. The official stressed the importance of the CCP’s leadership in governing “confidentiality work,” and stated the revised law will help the CCP leverage its political and organizational advantages in managing confidential information.[37]

The PRC’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) separately unveiled a three-year plan to strengthen the industrial sector’s data security on February 26. The plan will apply protective measures to over 45,000 companies, including enhanced risk assessment, ransomware simulations, and integration of data security products and services.[38] Both policies are designed to strengthen national security by safeguarding political integrity and maintaining tight control over sensitive information. The PRC’s new policy actions are the CCP’s response to a perceived hostile external environment, which Xi Jinping characterized as demanding defiance against foreign containment at the 20th Party Congress in 2022.[39] These measures are rooted in Xi’s comprehensive national security doctrine, which encourages heightened vigilance and robust safeguarding against anything that could threaten the CCP’s legitimacy. This approach entails a strategic application of the doctrine across various segments of society, aiming to fortify ideological, economic, and military security in the face of Western resistance to the PRC’s ascent.

Southeast Asia


The Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) has continued efforts to assert control over Scarborough Shoal by erecting a floating barrier and intercepting vessels that belong to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). On February 22, the PCG reported that the CCG placed a floating barrier at the entrance to the Scarborough Shoal lagoon to prevent Philippine fishing vessels from entering.[40] The PRC first erected a similar barrier on September 20, 2023, which the PCG removed on September 25, 2023, following strong condemnation from the PCG and BFAR.[41] On February 26, a spokesperson for the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Philippines has taken a “series of actions infringing on China’s sovereignty in the waters off Scarborough Shoal” and affirmed that the PRC would take necessary measures to guard its sovereignty, maritime rights, and interests.[42]

From February 22-23, the PCG and BFAR vessel BRP Datu Sanday conducted a resupply mission of 44 fishing vessels in the waters near Scarborough Shoal.[43] The PRC accused the Philippines of “illegally intruding” into Chinese territory. PCG Spokesperson Commodore Jay Tarriela refuted the accusation by saying that the Philippine vessels are “actively ensuring the security of Filipino fishermen” in the area.[44] A CCG ship positioned itself horizontally in front of the bow of the BRP Datu Sanday during the resupply mission in an attempt to deny access to waters adjacent to the Shoal. The CCG also conducted electronic jamming of the BRP Datu Sanday’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) to prevent the transmission of positional information that may conflict with the CCP narrative.[45] The PCG Spokesperson reported three PRC Navy vessels shadowed the BRP Datu Sanday 25 nautical miles outside of the Shoal and deployed a helicopter to observe the Philippine vessels.[46] [47]

Scarborough Shoal is a contested atoll that the PRC and the Philippines claim and that has been under de facto PRC control since 2012. The atoll falls within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, which gives the Philippines sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The PRC claims the shoal under its nine-dash line, which the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected in a 2016 ruling. The PRC rejected the court’s ruling.[48] The PRC has sought to control Scarborough Shoal, most of the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, and many other islands and features in the South China Sea that are disputed with other regional states. The CCP has built military infrastructure on islands it has seized control of or artificially constructed to expand its power projection capability, strengthen domain awareness, and increase its ability to block critical Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) through the South China Sea. The PRC has built military infrastructure on islands it has seized control of or artificially constructed to expand its power projection capability, strengthen domain awareness, and increase its ability to block critical Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) through the South China Sea. Developing the capability to monitor or restrict ships through the South China Sea can support a future PRC effort to implement a blockade of Taiwan or block US and allied reinforcements from reaching the Taiwan Strait in wartime. The PRC has not built any infrastructure on Scarborough Shoal, however, because Philippine vessels continue to actively contest its control of the territory.



The PRC is pursuing security cooperation with Kiribati to increase its security foothold in the Pacific Islands. Kiribati's acting police commissioner Eeri Aritiera told Reuters on February 23 that uniformed PRC police officers are operating in the country to assist local law enforcement with a community policing program and managing a crime database program.[49] Kiribati has not publicly announced a security agreement with the PRC. The PRC’s policing cooperation efforts with Kiribati serve to enhance its security influence in the Pacific. Expanding the agreement to military cooperation could provide the PRC with access to strategic locations for potential military use in exchange for assisting island nations with internal security. The significance of these agreements lies in their contribution to the PRC’s broader geopolitical ambitions, including countering Western influence and establishing a more favorable balance of power in the region.

The PRC’s ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian denied that the PRC harbors military-related ambitions as part of its cooperation with the Pacific Islands. Xiao stated on January 17 that security is a component of the PRC’s relationship with Pacific Island countries, and the purpose of security partnerships is to help maintain “social stability and basic order.”[50] Xiao’s comments came days after the PRC won formal diplomatic recognition from Nauru at Taiwan’s expense. Kiribati cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of the PRC in 2019.

The PRC has pursued similar security cooperation with other Pacific Island nations. Former Solomon Islands provincial leader Daniel Suidani leaked a draft security agreement between the PRC and Solomon Islands in March 2022. Suidani was an outspoken critic of the government’s decision to switch recognition from Taiwan to the PRC in 2019.[51] The leaked document included language granting the PRC access and replenishment rights to Solomon Islands ports, as well as the right to use its armed forces to protect Chinese projects and personnel in the Solomon Islands. Australian state media verified the authenticity of the document.[52] A former Solomon Islands prime minister and confidante of the incumbent stated that the final agreement, which was signed a month later, is “very close” to the leaked draft.[53] The PRC began supplying the Solomon Islands with police training and riot control equipment later that year. [54] The PRC’s Ministry of Defense denied rumors that the PRC is pursuing a naval base on the Solomon Islands.[55] The two countries upgraded their security cooperation again in July 2023 with a pact that recommitted the PRC’s provision of law enforcement support to the Solomon Islands as a part of their “comprehensive strategic partnership.”[56]


Tuvalu’s newly elected prime minister assuaged fears that Tuvalu would cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Tuvalu’s parliament unanimously elected Feleti Teo as its new prime minister on February 26. Teo is Tuvalu’s former attorney general and a former regional fisheries official. His victory thwarted the prime ministerial ambitions of former finance minister and newly elected legislator Seve Paeniu, who said he would review Tuvalu’s diplomatic ties with Taiwan if he became prime minister.[57] Taiwan’s ambassador to Tuvalu Andrew Lin said he had received assurances from Teo and other Tuvaluan members of parliament that the Tuvalu-Taiwan relationship was “rock solid” and “everlasting.”[58] Tuvalu's new government formally released a Statement of Priorities on February 28 reaffirming its relationship with Taiwan.[59] Tuvalu is one of 12 countries that maintains diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) rather than the PRC. The PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to “stand on the right side of history” by recognizing the “one-China principle.”[60]

Compacts of Free Association

The loss of Compacts of Free Association (COFA) funding for Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands risks United States control of key sea lines of communication (SLOC) in East Asia. These COFAs govern the United States’ relationship with Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands while granting the United States extensive military access throughout their territories. The United States renewed COFAs with Palau and Micronesia in May.[61] It then did so with the Marshall Islands in October.[62] Congress previously funded the COFAs for a twenty-year period in 2003.[63] That funding has now expired. The newly re-signed COFA agreements are now before Congress for funding consideration in the form of H.J.Res.96 and S.J.Res.48.[64] The total cost for all three of the twenty-year agreements would be roughly $7 billion spread over the period 2024 to 2043, according to the Congressional Research Service.[65]

The loss of funding also threatens the continuation of the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in Micronesia, the Department of Defense high-frequency radar system under construction in Palau, as well as the opportunity for the United States Air Force Agile Combat Employment operations to take place in Micronesia.[66]

The loss of COFA funding also threatens the security of key SLOCs for the United States that provide a secure route connecting American allies and partners, such as the Philippines and Taiwan, to the US territory of Guam and the state of Hawaii. The United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) defines SLOCs as “the principal maritime routes between ports, as used for trade, military, or other purposes.”[67]

The loss of Compact of Free Association (COFA) funding for Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands presents opportunities for the People’s Republic of China to fill the gap in funding to threaten the SLOCs. COFA funding accounts for $36.9 million of Palau’s annual $124.2 million revenue as of fiscal year 2023 and $35.2 million of the Marshall Islands’ annual $173.9 million revenue as of fiscal year 2023.[68],[69] The Presidents of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands sent a letter to the leaders of the United States Senate on February 6 stating that they “cannot overstate the importance to all of our nations of final approval [of COFA funding] by the U.S. Congress” and that its delay “has resulted in undesirable opportunities for economic exploitation by competitive political actors active in the Pacific.”[70] “Competitive political actors” is a veiled reference to the Chinese Communist Party.

COFA Funding as Share of Government Revenue in Freely Associated States[71]

Percentage of total government revenue, FY2023. *This graphic does not include Micronesia as fiscal year 2023 data for the country was unavailable.

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[42] https://www.fmprc dot

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[45] https://www.gmanetwork dot com/news/topstories/nation/898558/bfar-more-filipinos-now-fishing-in-scarborough-shoal/story/

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[54] https://www.globaltimes dot cn/page/202207/1271699.shtml#:~:text=%22I%20was%20surprised%20to%20see,between%20the%20police%20and%20residents.%22

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[60] https://www.fmprc dot








[68], p.3

[69] https://www.palaugov dot pw/wp-content/uploads/Economic-and-Fiscal-Update.pdf, p.12


[71], p.3