African nation cuts ties with Taipei

De­ci­sion returns Sao Tome and Principe to ‘right track’ on one-China prin­ci­ple, Bei­jing says

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN BAIJIE an­bai­jie@chi­

One of Tai­wan’s three African al­lies cut its “diplo­matic ties” with the is­land, and ob­servers pre­dicted more such de­feats if Tai­wan con­tin­ues to chal­lenge the one-China prin­ci­ple.

The African is­land nation of the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Sao Tome and Principe an­nounced on Tues­day that it had bro­ken its “diplo­matic ties” with Tai­wan.

Cur­rently, 21 coun­tries and gov­ern­ments, mainly small na­tions and is­lands in Latin Amer­ica, Ocea­nia and Africa, rely heav­ily on eco­nomic aid from Tai­wan and hold such ties with the is­land.

For­eign Min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing said on Wed­nes­day that China wel­comed the de­ci­sion by Sao Tome and Principe, since the one-China pol­icy is widely rec­og­nized around the world.

China praised the move and wel­comed the African coun­try to “re­turn to the right track of the one-China prin­ci­ple”, she said, adding that the prin­ci­ple is re­lated to China’s core in­ter­ests and is the po­lit­i­cal foun­da­tion for China’s friendly ties with other coun­tries.

Sao Tome and Principe, which achieved in­de­pen­dence from Por­tu­gal in 1975, is the sec­ond-small­est African coun­try af­ter Sey­chelles. The nation es­tab­lished a diplo­matic

re­la­tion­ship with China in July 1975, but Bei­jing cut the re­la­tion­ship in 1997 af­ter the African is­land coun­try an­nounced that it would es­tab­lish “diplo­matic ties” with Taipei.

The break of ties an­nounced on Tues­day oc­curs amid cross-Straits ten­sion fol­low­ing Tai­wan leader Tsai Ing­wen’s con­grat­u­la­tory call to US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump on Dec 2. The phone call broke four decades of Sino-US diplo­matic prece­dent.

If Tsai con­tin­ues to chal­lenge the one-China prin­ci­ple, Tai­wan will face tougher pun­ish­ment from the main­land, with the is­land’s abil­ity to par­tic­i­pate in in­ter­na­tional ac­tiv­i­ties fur­ther squeezed, said Wang Hail­iang, a re­searcher of Tai­wan stud­ies at the Shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sci­ences.

Wang said that many coun­tries have vowed to cut ties with Taipei in ex­change for build­ing diplo­matic ties with China. How­ever, Bei­jing has shown re­straint on the is­sue in re­cent years when Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties led by Ma Ying-jeou main­tained peace­ful devel­op­ment with the main­land on the ba­sis of the oneChina prin­ci­ple.

“Now it’s the right time for China to take those coun­tries’ of­fers into con­sid­er­a­tion,” he said, adding that Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties led by Tsai will be snubbed by more coun­tries be­cause the is­land’s au­thor­i­ties are seek­ing to change the sta­tus quo across the Straits, which could lead to re­gional in­sta­bil­ity.

In March, Bei­jing re­sumed diplo­matic ties at am­bassa- dor level with Gambia, the West African coun­try that cut “diplo­matic re­la­tions” with Tai­wan in 2013.

Jin Yong, deputy head of the School of For­eign Stud­ies at Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Univer­sity of China, said that the main­land has more cards to play if Tsai re­fuses to rec­og­nize the 1992 Con­sen­sus, which en­dorsed the one-China prin­ci­ple.

For ex­am­ple, Bei­jing could make diplo­matic ef­forts to bar Taipei’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in in­ter­na­tional ac­tiv­i­ties, Jin said.

In Septem­ber, the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which op­er­ates un­der the frame­work of the United Na­tions, did not in­vite Tai­wan to par­tic­i­pate in its assem­bly in Canada, be­cause the cur­rent Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties have re­fused to rec­og­nize the 1992 Con­sen­sus.


Lu­mi­nous beasts

Lanterns in the form of gi­raffes light up the night dur­ing a Chi­nese Lantern Fes­ti­val dis­play on Tues­day at Lon­gleat House, near Warmin­ster in Eng­land. In China, the fes­ti­val is held in Fe­bru­ary or March.

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