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RNZ Pacific

The Tuvalu government has withdrawn from a UN Oceans Conference in Portugal after China blocked Taiwanese delegates in its team.

An officer with Tuvalu’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Jessica Marinaccio, told RNZ Pacific that Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe was already en route to the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, for the summit on scaling up actions to protect the world’s oceans.

But Dr Marinaccio said China had blocked the credentials of three Taiwanese participants on Tuvalu’s delegation list.

The Foreign Minister made a decision to return and will land in Brisbane on Monday night instead of Lisbon.

The UN Oceans Conference is hosted by the governments of Kenya and Portugal and around two dozen heads of state and governments are expected to attend the event taking place from June 27 to July 1.

Representatives from 193 countries will also be joining the conference, including 938 civil society groups, 75 foundations, and 74 universities.

Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Meanwhile, Kofe has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

He made headlines at last year’s COP 26 summit, when he addressed the summit while standing knee-deep in the ocean to highlight rising sea levels.

Kofe said he was surprised at the nomination but at the same time honoured to be considered.

He said the main message of the clip, which had gone viral online, was to recognise the plight of Pacific Island nations like Tuvalu in their fight against climate change.

Sir David Attenborough, the World Health Organisation, and Belarusian dissident Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Greta Thunberg, and Pope Francis are among the other nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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