With the first leaders' summit between Taiwan and its African allies set to begin today, President Chen Shui-bian (
Before meeting Swazi King Mswati III, Chen witnessed the signing of a memorandum of agreement on medical cooperation between Taiwan and the Southern African country.
Under the pact, Taiwan will dispatch a medical mission to Swaziland to help relieve the shortage of medical staff in the kingdom and improve its health care standards.
This is King Mswati III's 10th visit since being crowned in April 1986. Taiwan and Swaziland established diplomatic ties in 1968, when King Mswati III was born.
Chen yesterday congratulated the monarch for democratic achievements since the 1990s, when he first allowed political reforms and greater democracy.
Chen also thanked the kingdom's representative to the UN for helping present Taiwan's application for UN membership.
Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika said that Taiwan, although small, has every right to become a member of the UN, and that his country would continue to support Taiwan's effort to join the UN and other international organizations.
Gambian Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy, who will attend the summit on behalf of President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, said that her country would continue to support Taiwan's participation in the international community and speak in favor of Taiwan joining the UN at the body's General Assembly next month.
Describing Taiwan as a "family" and "brother," Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore restated his country's firm support for Taiwan and pledged to continue speaking out for Taiwan's rights in the international arena.
Leaders of the five African allies will sign a joint declaration supporting Taiwan's UN bid at the close of the summit.
Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Africa are Malawi, Swaziland, Gambia, Burkina Faso and Sao Tome and Principe.
China yesterday blasted the summit between Taiwan and its African allies.
"We strongly oppose it," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) said yesterday.
"The real purpose of hosting these so-called summits by the government of Chen Shui-bian is not to support the development of Africa and seek benefit for the Taiwanese people," Jiang said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site. "It is for the personal gain of individuals and the political party and it attempts to carry out `Taiwan independence' secessionist activities internationally, so as to ... damage friendly ties between China and Africa."
Last year, China rolled out the red carpet for leaders from almost 50 African nations for the first summit between Chinese and African officials, showcasing a vigorous relationship centered around oil and aid.
"The success of the China-Africa cooperation summit last year in Beijing pushed ties to a new phase of development," Jiang said. "The move by the Chen Shui-bian government to push forward secessionist activities by using the Taiwan-Africa summit runs counter to the general trend of the times."
"This attempt cannot succeed," she said.