Tue, Dec 25, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Relations between Taiwan and Malawi unchanged: Maloya

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Malawian Ambassador to Taiwan Thengo Maloya yesterday reassured Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang (黃志芳) that his country had no intention of switching diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People's Republic of China.

"It's a media report. The media can say anything ... The relationship between Taiwan and Malawi is stable, and I think it's stronger," the ambassador said when approached by the media at the ministry for a comment on recent reports.

Maloya was summoned to talks with Huang yesterday morning, the second time after a story published on Friday by the Nyasa Times, an online newspaper in Malawi, saying that Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika had sanctioned severing diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China.

Maloya told the media yesterday that "there is no change" in the relationship between Taiwan and Malawi and that he "will be the first to know" if there were.

Asked if Taiwan should have faith in the relationship, Maloya said: "Of course."

A high-level official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who requested not to be named, said Huang had met Maloya to discuss the matter on Saturday night.

"Maloya told us [yesterday] that he had talked with his president on two occasions over the phone last weekend and that his president had denied a plan to change diplomatic relations," the official said.

The Nyasa Times said that two of Mutharika's senior Cabinet ministers, accompanied by two senior officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, were to leave for Beijing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding paving the way for full diplomatic relations between the two countries.

"Maloya said he was not sure if the two senior ministers were planning to go to Beijing, but he knew for sure that they had not been instructed by Mutharika to do so," the official said.

The official said that Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Tzu-pao (楊子葆), who was recently sent to Malawi to deal with the situation, had met Mutharika and obtained the same response given the ministry by the ambassador.

Asked by reporters to assess Taiwan's relationship with Malawi, the officials said: "We can't doubt the promise [Maloya] has given us."

"We will remain vigilant on this matter. Whether the two senior Cabinet ministers will make their visit to China is an indicator [of future developments], but Malawian Cabinet ministers have visited China in the past," the official said.

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