Sao Tome and Principe break diplomatic ties with Taiwan

World Today

Hua Chunying In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, file photo, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying speaks during a briefing at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing, China. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

The Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday expressed appreciation over the two island nation of Sao Tome and Principe’s decision to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

In response to the announcement by Sao Tome and Principe on Tuesday, Chinese ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China welcomes the country to be back on the right track of the one-China principle.

Most of the world and the United Nations do not formally recognize Taiwan as a condition of maintaining relations with China, which considers the island as part of its territory.

Taiwanese foreign affairs official David Lee accused Sao Tome of demanding “an astronomical amount of financial help,” though he did not say how much. A Taiwanese foreign office statement said Sao Tome had been trying to “gain a higher price by lingering on both sides of the strait.”

Taiwan “regrets the Sao Tome and Principe government’s abrupt and unfriendly decision, and condemns this action,” the statement said.

Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe (PHOTO: S&P council on tourism)

Sao Tome and Principe is an island nation off the coast of central Africa, with a population of almost 200,000. The impoverished former Portuguese colony relies heavily on foreign aid.

China’s foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that it welcomed the decision to “break the so-called ‘diplomatic’ ties with Taiwan.” China did not say whether it would resume its own diplomatic relationship with Sao Tome, though the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported that Sao Tome would seek to recognize China. Beijing suspended its relationship with Sao Tome in 1997 after the island nation established diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

According to Lusa, Sao Tome’s government issued a statement saying its officials faced the “increasingly fierce defense of national interests” by other countries. The government also cited Sao Tome’s “transformation agenda and millennium development goals” in making the decision to break with Taiwan.

“There is only one China in the world,” Hua said. She added, “By cutting ties with Taiwan, Sao Tome and Principe is showing its recognition to the one-China principle.”

Now that Sao Tome and Principe have cut ties with Taipei, there are now just 21 nations that officially recognize Taiwan:

  • Kiribati
  • Nauru
  • Solomon Islands
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Republic of Palau
  • Tuvalu
  • Burkina Faso
  • Swaziland
  • The Vatican
  • Belize
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Nicaragua
  • Paraguay
  • St Lucia
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Panama
  • St. Christopher and Nevis
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies are mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as several Pacific island nations and the Holy See. Just two African nations remain on Taipei’s side: Burkina Faso and Swaziland. One former African ally, Gambia, broke with Taiwan in 2013 and established formal ties with China this year.

Story by Xinhua and The Associated Press.