Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 3 News List

African allies to support Taiwan in summit pact

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The first summit between Taiwan and its African allies is set to begin on Sunday in Taipei, with the allies poised to sign a joint declaration supporting Taiwan's UN bid.

Billing the event as "pioneering," Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) told a press conference that Taiwan must develop a new approach to foreign affairs.

"China's diplomatic strategy and predatory economic policy have caused strong aversion in several Western and African countries," Chen said. "Because of its strategic ambitions and [pursuit of] unilateral interests, China has never helped African countries develop their own industries and divorce themselves from poverty."

Instead, China contributes to the deterioration of human rights in African countries and hampers democracy and peace, he said.

The purpose of the event, Chen said, is to show Taiwan is willing to help resolve the problems and difficulties encountered by the nation's African allies. Leaders at the summit will discuss future cooperation.

Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Africa are Malawi, Swaziland, Gambia, Burkina Faso, and Sao Tome and Principe.

The main themes of the summit will be "information and a growing Africa" and "a healthy, sustainable and peaceful Africa."

Chen will sign a joint declaration with the allies at the close of the meeting.

Taiwan's application for UN membership will also be one of the key issues on the agenda, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Tzu-pao (楊子葆) said, adding that it would be included in the communique.

Following the summit, a Taiwan-Africa Progressive Partnership Forum is set for Monday.

Leaders of the five African allies and representatives from another 35 African nations have been invited.

Yang said they had sent out 200 invitations and received confirmations of attendance from 120 guests. Yang said that because China usually contacts diplomats to pressure them not to meet Taiwanese officials, they expected approximately 80 guests to attend.

Meanwhile, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika said yesterday that his country would maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Speaking at the airport in Lilongwe shortly before his departure for Taipei, Mutharika said the African nation would not abandon Taiwan for China.

"We have received numerous assistances from Taiwan and we will maintain the diplomatic relations between us and Taiwan," he said.

"Malawi has never had relations with China and we cannot start comparing how much aid it gives to other African countries in relation to what we get from Taiwan," Mutharika said.

Additional reporting by AFP

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