Taiwan president says we will no longer tolerate Beijing’s actions after Burkina Faso becomes latest ally to cut ties with island

Tsai Ing-wen says island will continue to reach out to the world after West African state’s desertion leaves it with just 18 allies

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 May, 2018, 6:58pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 9:12am

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said on Thursday that the island would no longer tolerate Beijing’s activities, hours after Burkina Faso announced it was breaking diplomatic ties with the island.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu also tendered his resignation and took responsibility for the lost of the West African ally.

Burkina Faso is the second country to dump Taiwan within weeks. The Dominican Republic switched recognition to Beijing earlier this month, leaving the island with only 18 diplomatic allies around the world.

Tsai said mainland China’s moves follow the island’s “recent progress on economic and security ties with the US and other like-minded countries”.

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“[Mainland] China has touched Taiwan society’s bottom line. We will no longer tolerate this but will be more determined to reach out to the world,” Tsai said.

She added that Taiwan would not engage in dollar diplomacy – showering prospective allies with aid money – in competition with the mainland.

It was not immediately clear if Burkina Faso and Beijing would establish diplomatic relations but Wu said it could only be “sooner or later” and that “everyone knows [mainland] China is the only factor”.

In Beijing, the foreign ministry said in a statement that it approved of Burkina Faso’s decision. 

“We welcome Burkina Faso joining in China-Africa friendly cooperation as soon as possible on the basis of the one-China principle,” said spokesperson Lu Kang. 

Mainland China still considers Taiwan to be a renegade province to be reunified, by force if necessary, even though they split in 1949 after a civil war.

The both sides have been engaged for years in a diplomatic tug-of-war in developing countries. Economic support and other aid are often used as bargaining chips for diplomatic recognition.

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 is the fifth country to cut ties with Taiwan since Tsai came to office, following the Dominican Republic, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe and Panama.

“The Burkina government decided today to break off its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan,” Foreign Minister Alpha Barry said, in an announcement that follows a string of similar moves by African states since 2000.

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“Since 1994, Burkina Faso has had cooperation relations with Taiwan,” Barry said in a statement.

“But today, changes in the world, the current socio-economic challenges facing our country and our region call on us to reconsider our position.”

Taiwan now has only one diplomatic ally left in Africa – the tiny kingdom of Swaziland.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters