After Sao Tome and Principe ditched Taiwan last week, China has wasted no time in setting up diplomatic ties with the tiny African nation.
Earlier today, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his counterpart from Sao Tome, Urbino Botelho, participated in a ceremony in Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guesthouse to re-establish relations between the two countries.
Last week, Taiwan’s foreign minister David Lee expressed “regret” over Sao Tome’s decision to sever its ties with the Republic of China, but added that Taiwan refuses to engage in “dollar diplomacy,” explaining that the impoverished West African island nation felt its financial needs were not being satisfied, accusing the former Portuguese colony with a population of under 200,000 of demanding “an astronomical amount of financial help.”
Wang has promised that becoming buddies with Beijing will bring benefits to both countries, allowing for exchanges in tourism, the media and other areas, the AP reports.
Of course, this comes in the middle of a prolonged diplomatic war between Beijing and Taipei which was inflamed earlier this month following a protocol-shattering phone call between US President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
While Taiwan may be cautiously optimistic about Trump’s questioning of the “one China” policy — which has been the bedrock of US-China relations for the past 40 years — it is unquestionably losing the global war for influence.
With Sao Tome’s abrupt departure, there are now just 21 countries or entities around the world that have full diplomatic relations with the Republic of China. Most of these nations are located in Latin America. In Africa, where China is exerting increasing economic influence and might, the only nations that still hold ties with Taipei are Burkina Faso and Swaziland. The last government to sever ties with Taiwan was Gambia in 2013.
Next month, Tsai will be making an official trip to visit a few of Taiwan’s allies in Central America. On the way she will transit through the US, but not meet Trump. The rumored trip was made official at a press conference by Tsai last week, making the timing of Sao Tome’s sudden side switch seem not so coincidental.
[Images via ChinaNews]