Nigeria orders Taiwan trade office to move out of capital

By Bai Tiantian and Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/13 0:13:39

Beijing steps up diplomatic, military pressure on Tsai


Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (R) meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Abuja, Nigeria, on Jan. 11, 2017. The Nigerian government reaffirmed its commitment to One-China policy on Wednesday, saying Nigeria will stay committed to the long-standing friendship and cooperation with China. (Xinhua/Zhang Baoping)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (R) meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Abuja, Nigeria, on Jan. 11, 2017. The Nigerian government reaffirmed its commitment to One-China policy on Wednesday, saying Nigeria will stay committed to the long-standing friendship and cooperation with China. (Xinhua/Zhang Baoping)


 
The latest moves by the Chinese mainland show it has ramped up both diplomatic pressure and military deterrence against Taiwan, including navigating an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Straits for the first time, as the island's pro-independence leader continues her cross-Pacific visit struggling to maintain foreign support.

During his visit to Africa, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama on Wednesday signed a joint communiqué which reiterated Nigeria's commitment to the one-China policy. Nigeria had requested Taiwan's representative office to move out of its capital Abuja a few days before.

Nigeria has revoked the consular privileges enjoyed by Taiwan's office, including withdrawing its consular number plates, Chinese ambassador to Nigeria Zhou Pingjian told the Global Times, adding that Nigeria has also imposed detailed regulations on the number of staff at Taiwan's new office in Lagos.

Taiwan has no diplomatic ties with Nigeria but maintained a representative office in Abuja in the name of handling business affairs since 1991.

The move is believed to further plunge the Taiwan administration into diplomatic isolation after Sao Tome and Principe, another West African country, cut off ties with Taiwan three weeks ago, leaving it with 21 diplomatic partners.

Wang, on the last stop of his beginning-of-the-year Africa visit which took him to Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania and Republic of Congo, praised Nigeria's latest move.

Nigeria is the most populous country and the largest economy in Africa and the move may trigger a ripple effect on the continent, analysts said.

"It's clear that squeezing Taiwan's diplomatic space is part of Wang Yi's African visit agenda. The move is to warn Tsai Ing-wen of the consequences should she choose to go down the path of Taiwan independence," Wang Jianmin, a Taiwan expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Tsai, who assumed office as Taiwan "president" in May last year, has yet to recognize the 1992 Consensus, which states that both sides of the Taiwan Straits recognize the one-China principle. Tsai made a direct phone call to US President-elect Donald Trump in early December, a move that not only broke with US-China diplomatic protocol, but also was viewed as direct provocation to the mainland.

Diplomatic coup



Zhang Wensheng, a research fellow at the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University, said Taiwan may risk losing more diplomatic partners in 2017.

"Given Tsai's pro-independence stance, it's likely that the island may lose one or two more diplomatic partners in Latin America just this year," Zhang predicted, adding that Taiwan could lose its remaining diplomatic partners in Africa in the next couple of years.

Tsai is currently wrapping up a week-long visit to Latin America, with analysts believing she is eager to secure the dwindling diplomatic space of the island in the world.

"The Taiwan government may find it difficult to engage in trade negotiations with other countries if the mainland does not tolerate it, meaning Tsai's 'Go South' policy to alleviate Taiwan's business dependence on the mainland and seek alternative markets will likely fail," Zhang said.

However, analysts said Beijing will continue to honor the 23 agreements it signed with Taipei on economic cooperation and direct flights and welcome Taiwan residents to work in the mainland.

"Beijing will be very careful when it comes to economic sanctions. The idea is to exert pressure on the pro-independence Taiwan government while keeping the impact on Taiwan people to the minimum," Zhang said.

Meanwhile, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) navy has confirmed that the Liaoning aircraft carrier passed through the Taiwan Straits on Thursday. That means the Liaoning has for the first time completed a circuit of the island, which some Taiwan media said sends a warning signal.

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the Liaoning's movement showed the aircraft carrier is combat ready. Those who want to separate China's territory and support Taiwan independence will surely be afraid.




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