Nauru's president has demanded China apologise for a top diplomat's "crazy" behaviour at the Pacific Islands Forum and lashed out at Beijing's "arrogant" presence in the region.
"They're not our friends. They just need us for their own purposes," President Baron Waqa told reporters.
"Sorry, but I have to be strong on this because no one is to come and dictate things to us," said Waqa, whose country backs self-ruling and democratic Taiwan over arch-rival China in their battle for diplomatic recognition.
This year's annual Pacific summit, which wraps up in Nauru yesterday, has been one of the most contentious in the event's 49-year history.
The diplomatic spat pits Nauru -- with a population of 11,000 and an area of just 21 square kilometres (eight square miles) -- against the Asian superpower.
It erupted on Tuesday when the head of China's delegation Du Qiwen attempted to address a meeting but Waqa refused to let him speak until island leaders had finished.
The Chinese delegation then stormed out, with Du reportedly striding around the room to emphasize his displeasure before leaving.
"Would he behave like that in front of his own president? I doubt it," Waqa said at a press conference late Wednesday. He's not even a minister and he's demanding to be recognised and to speak before the prime minister of Tuvalu. Is he crazy?"
China rejected his calls for an apology, instead calling on Nauru to reflect on its actions.
"I want to sternly warn Nauru, and whomever is behind this farce: the 'one China' principle is an unstoppable historical trend," said foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying at a regular press briefing.
“It should stop this unreasonable fuss and stop humiliating itself."