Sao Tome and Principe breaks ties with Taiwan

By Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/21 14:03:39

‘Decision teaches Trump a lesson over respect for one China'

The African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe on Wednesday broke "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan, conforming to a global trend to recognize the one-China principle, experts said, warning that Taiwan authorities will hurt the island's interests by refusing to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday expressed appreciation over Sao Tome and Principe's decision to break "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Reacting to the announcement made by the government of Sao Tome and Principe on Tuesday (local time), foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China welcomes the country's return to the right track of the one-China policy.

The one-China principle, which involves China's core interests and the feeling of its 1.3 billion citizens, is the political basis and premise on which China is to develop friendly relations and cooperation with foreign countries, Hua said.

An Fengshan, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Wednesday that China's firm stance on the one-China principle and opposition to "Taiwan-independence" will earn greater recognition and support from the international community.

A Taiwan expert who requested not to be named told the Global Times on Wednesday that Sao Tome and Principe's decision reflects a global trend to recognize the one-China principle.

"The international space for Taiwan will gradually shrink if its authorities refuse to recognize the 1992 Consensus," the expert warned, adding that there are concerns in the island that more countries would follow in the steps of Sao Tome and Principe.   

The 1992 Consensus affirms the one-China principle and the current Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen has yet to recognize the consensus.

A total of 21 countries and governments have "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan, including the Holy See, Burkina Faso and Swaziland, according to the Taiwan government's website.

"Taiwan has no other way but to recognize the 1992 Consensus," said Jin Yi, an expert at the Institute of Taiwan Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Jin pointed out that Sao Tome and Principe's decision also teaches US President-elect Donald Trump a lesson about the necessity to respect the one-China principle as China's core interest, as he spoke over the phone with Tsai on December 2, breaking diplomatic protocols.  

"With the rising influence of the mainland, more countries want to receive the benefits of cooperation with China," Jin noted.

The trade volume between China and Sao and Principe stood at about $8 million in 2015, according to the website of the Chinese foreign ministry. Meanwhile, the trade volume between Taiwan and Sao and Principe was only about $350,800 that year, news portal reported.

Lee Ta-wei, head of the Taiwan "foreign affairs department," on Wednesday condemned Sao Tome and Principe's "abrupt" move to break their "diplomatic ties." Lee acknowledged that Sao Tome and Principe had asked Taiwan for an enormous amount of financial aid in March (reportedly $200 million) which Taiwan refused as "Taiwan does not want to use money as a tool of competition in diplomacy."

But the Taiwan expert said that Lee was using an economic argument to play down the political significance of the event.

Fewer and fewer countries are choosing to maintain "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan and many people think the island has entered a process of "de-facto reunification," the expert said.


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