China will continue to explore the possibility of luring away nations that maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan in the wake of Sao Tome and Principe severing its ties with Taipei, two China experts said.
The African nation on Wednesday announced that it was ending its 19-year-old diplomatic ties with Taiwan amid reports that Taiwan had refused its request for US$210 million in aid.
Former American Institute in Taiwan director Douglas Paal said that before a planned visit next month by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to four of the nation’s allies in Central America — Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador — China could be exploring the possibility of luring them away, either now or during her visit.
Paal, who has recently visited both sides of the Taiwan Strait, said that there are some in Beijing who believe China should react more strongly to Tsai’s Dec. 2 telephone call to US president-elect Donald Trump.
Trump said later that he would not feel “bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”
Heritage Foundation Asian Studies Center director Walter Lohman said that it must have been Sao Tome and Principe that took the initiative to get in touch with China and that he believes Beijing would continue to explore the possibility of luring away Taiwan’s diplomatic allies.
Lohman said that other recent incidents, such as Beijing seizing a US underwater drone in the South China Sea, are all part of China’s reaction to the changes in the triangular relationship between the US, China and Taiwan. -
The focus now will be on when China and Sao Tome and Principe would establish diplomatic ties, he said, adding that the longer it takes, the more it will show that it was Sao Tome and Principe that took the initiative.
Lohman said China’s attitude toward Taiwan has been consistent since Tsai won the presidential election in January.
He said that China certainly is not happy with Trump’s recent moves, but added Beijing would observe developments and try to sway the new US government.
Taiwan now has just two African diplomatic allies — Swaziland and Burkina Faso — among its remaining total of 21, most of which are Central American and Pacific island nations.
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