Beijing throws economic lifeline to former Taipei ally Sao Tome

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 11:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 11:12pm

Beijing has promised strong economic support for former Taiwan ally Sao Tome and Principe during the first official visit to mainland China by the African nation’s leader.

The small island nation off Africa’s west coast ditched Taiwan and resumed ties with Beijing in December to help revive its economy.

Sao Tomean Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada is heading a delegation to Beijing as the former Portuguese colony moves quickly to establish diplomatic and economic ties with Beijing.

China re-establishes ties with former Taiwan ally Sao Tome

In a meeting with Trovoada on Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang said recognition of the one-China policy was the prerequisite for bilateral ties.

“Sao Tome and Principe has made the decision out of consideration for the interests of its people and its long-term strategic benefits,” Li said. “Its support for the one-China policy has propelled the resumption of the two countries’ diplomatic relations.”

Beijing cut ties with Sao Tome in 1997 after it recognised Taiwan, which the mainland sees as a breakaway province.

Beijing and Taipei have scrambled over the years to compete for international recognition, poaching each other’s allies with generous aid ­packages and donations for developing nations.

Such efforts to squeeze Taiwan out of the international community by China has intensified after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen took office last year. Beijing has been deeply suspicious of Tsai and believe that she would eventually push for formal independence.

Taiwan losing out in ‘diplomatic war’ with Beijing as Sao Tome severs ties with island

Nigeria announced in January that it was demoting ties with Taiwan, leaving the island with 21 diplomatic allies, compared with the more than 170 countries that recognise mainland China.

Li and Trovoada witnessed the signing of four agreements, including an agreement on the framework of “comprehensive cooperation” between the two countries in the coming five years, as well as deals on investment and tourism.

Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said the two countries would cooperate in various fields, including medicine, agriculture, fisheries and infrastructure.

Trovoada will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday.