Sao Tome re­stores ties with Bei­jing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI XIAOKUN and ZHANG ZHIHAO

China and the African is­land na­tion of Sao Tome and Principe re­sumed diplo­matic re­la­tions on Mon­day, a move ex­perts see as a clear warn­ing to Taipei of a pos­si­ble flood of breaks with its “diplo­matic al­lies”.

Also on Mon­day, a group of war­ships from the main­land, led by the coun­try’s only air­craft car­rier, the CNS Liaon­ing, steamed through the north­ern por­tion of the South China Sea af­ter pass­ing south of Tai­wan, Reuters quoted the is­land’s “de­fense min­istry” as say­ing.

Bei­jing said on Satur­day that the Liaon­ing had set off for a rou­tine ex­er­cise in the West­ern Pa­cific.

In Bei­jing, For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi and his coun­ter­part from Sao Tome and Principe, Urbino Botelho, signed a joint com­mu­nique to re­sume diplo­matic ties at the Diaoyu­tai State Guest­house. The cer­e­mony on Mon­day came af­ter the African na­tion broke ties with Taipei last week.

“We need to ac­knowl­edge that China is play­ing an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in­ter­na­tion­ally,” Botelho said when meet­ing re­porters with Wang. “We want to make good on our past mis­takes.”

Bei­jing sus­pended its re­la­tion­ship with the na­tion in 1997 af­ter it es­tab­lished “diplo­matic ties” with Taipei.

Botelho said his coun­try now ex­pects more Chi­nese in­vest­ment and tourists.

“We are happy to see that Sao Tome and Principe has con­formed to the tide of his­tory by look­ing at the facts and long-term in­ter­ests of both coun­tries’ peo­ples,” Wang said.

The dis­rup­tion of ties be­tween Sao Tome and Principe and Tai­wan came af­ter US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump ir­ri­tated Bei­jing by ac­cept­ing a phone call from Tai­wan leader Tsai Ing-wen on Dec 2, break­ing with diplo­matic prece­dent.

He Wen­ping, a re­searcher at the In­sti­tute of West Asian and African Stud­ies of the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences, said the move was a “wake-up call” for Tsai to avoid un­der­min­ing the one-China prin­ci­ple dur­ing her up­com­ing trip to Latin Amer­ica in Jan­uary. She is also ex­pected to pass through the United States.

“Or she’ ll face an avalanche of breaks in ‘ diplo­matic al­lies’ with Tai­wan. ... Sao Tome and Principe is just the tip of the ice­berg,” He said.

Tai­wan now main­tains “of­fi­cial” ties with 21 coun­tries and gov­ern­ments, mostly in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean.

Yu Wen­sheng, a re­searcher in African stud­ies at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said Sao Tome and Principe wants to “ride China’s eco­nomic ex­press train in Africa and build a di­ver­si­fied and sus­tain­able econ­omy”.

“China has the cap­i­tal and tech­nolo­gies to help it cre­ate a healthy econ­omy through win-win co­op­er­a­tion that far out­weighs any gift money,” Yu said.

FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi and Urbino Botelho, his coun­ter­part from the African is­land na­tion of Sao Tome and Principe, share a light mo­ment be­fore they meet jour­nal­ists in Bei­jing on Mon­day to dis­cuss the na­tions’ re­sump­tion of diplo­matic re­la­tions.

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