African nation cuts ties with Taipei
Decision returns Sao Tome and Principe to ‘right track’ on one-China principle, Beijing says
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.
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.