Taiwan squeezed as Beijing and Burkina Faso start diplomatic ties

Foreign ministers sign joint communiqué two days after West African nation ended relations with the island

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 May, 2018, 7:22pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 May, 2018, 7:47pm

Beijing and Burkina Faso established diplomatic relations on Saturday, two days after the West African nation severed ties with Taiwan.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his Burkina Faso counterpart Alpha Barry in Beijing, where they signed a joint communiqué on building diplomatic ties, China’s foreign ministry said. The communiqué said there was only one China, that Taiwan was an inseparable part of China, and that Burkina Faso would not have official ties with Taiwan.

Barry arrived in China on Saturday for the first such visit since the West African nation suspended cooperation with Beijing in 1993, before switching recognition to Taiwan a year later.

Burkina Faso announced its decision to cut ties with Taiwan on Thursday, the latest in a string of nations to do so and leaving the island with just 18 diplomatic allies, including the Vatican.

Beijing sees Taiwan as a renegade province and has stepped up military action and pressure on its international space since Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party became the self-ruled island’s president two years ago.

Tsai was defiant, saying Taiwan would no longer tolerate Beijing’s activities and would defend the island’s sovereignty.

“We will not make any concessions,” she was quoted as saying by the Central News Agency on Saturday.

Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng, a former deputy minister on Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said Taipei would have to try to move closer to Washington to deal with the mounting pressure from Beijing.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry meanwhile said US Senator Cory Gardner would arrive in Taipei on Saturday for an impromptu visit to discuss how the US could help Taiwan at a challenging time diplomatically.

Gardner, who is chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, decided the night before he left the US to include Taiwan in his tour of Asia, according to the ministry. He will meet high-ranking Taiwanese officials and attend a dinner hosted by the island’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

Relations between Taiwan and the mainland have worsened since Tsai took office in May 2016 as her government refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of “one China”.

Burkina Faso is the fifth country to cut ties with Taiwan since she took power, following the Dominican Republic, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe and Panama.

Taiwanese aircraft tail Chinese bombers on flight around island

Beijing has stepped up military drills in and around Taiwan in recent months, frequently sending its H-6K bombers and fighters jets, as well as the PLA’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to conduct regular “island encirclement”patrols.

Beijing has also demanded international airlines make it clear that Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are all part of China on their websites. The United States described the demand as “Orwellian nonsense” and Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it would only stir resentment among Taiwanese people towards Beijing.