Wed, Jul 05, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Trade office in Nigeria move impeded by military

Staff writer, with CNA

The relocation of Taiwan’s trade office from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, has begun, but the move has been hampered by the host government’s decision to seal off the office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The Nigerian government in January ordered Taiwan to move its office from the capital, change its name from the Trade Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and reduce office staff numbers.

It also demanded on March 31 that office director Morgan Chao (趙家寶) leave the country, saying it could not guarantee his safety.

Chao has returned to Taiwan.

On Friday last week, Nigeria sent military personnel to seal off the trade office and force staff to leave.

Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) yesterday said that Taiwan has decided to move the office to Lagos and has scheduled the relocation to be completed in three months.

However, because the office was sealed off by military personnel, staff could not get in, hampering the move, Wang said.

The ministry has negotiated with Nigeria to withdraw the military presence at the Abuja office to allow the relocation process to continue.

It has also twice summoned the acting director of the Nigeria Trade Office in Taiwan to express a serious protest over a series of moves by the African nation against Taiwan’s interests and asked the office to move out of Taipei based on the principles of equality and dignity.

Nigeria has apparently been acting under pressure from China, which has stepped up its suppression of Taiwan in the international community since the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20 last year.

In the middle of last month China enticed Panama to switch diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing and cut all official ties with the nation, the second ally Beijing has lured away since Tsai took power.

That left only 20 nations that officially recognize Taiwan.

Tsai’s government has taken a less conciliatory stance toward Beijing than its predecessor and Beijing has cut off official contacts and taken a harsher stance against Taiwan as a result.

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