Wed, Jul 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Envoy to Eswatini recovering: ministry

By Julianna Lai  /  Contributing reporter

Ambassador to Eswatini Thomas Chen, third right, stands next to Eswatini’s King Mswati III, center, in an undated photograph.

Photo: Lu I-hsuan, Taipei Times

Ambassador to Eswatini Thomas Chen (陳經銓) has made significant progress in his recovery from a stroke late last month, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) told a media briefing yesterday.

After being found seriously ill in his Mbabane office on June 22, Chen was transferred to a hospital in South Africa for treatment.

He returned to Eswatini on June 29 and remains hospitalized.

Chen has regained full consciousness and is able to communicate with medical professionals and his family, Lee said.

Chen is the only remaining Taiwanese ambassador in Africa after Burkina Faso severed ties with Taiwan in late May.

As Eswatini is Taiwan’s last African ally, Chen was busy arranging King Mswati III’s state visit to Taiwan on June 6 and President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) trip to Eswatini in April before he became ill.

Chen is not the first Taiwanese envoy to feel pressure to shore up Taiwanese diplomatic relations in the face of Beijing’s aggressive measures to entice African countries with investment and loans before the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) scheduled to take place in Beijing in September.

The ministry previously revealed that then-ambassador to the Dominican Republic Tang Ji-zen (湯繼仁) lost 7kg and was under extreme pressure before China persuaded the Caribbean nation to establish formal ties with Beijing on April 30.

In an interview with CNN at the end of last month, Chen said that he does not lose any sleep over the Taiwan-Eswatini relationship.

King Mswati III has told Taipei that he does not plan to attend the China-Africa summit and reiterated his country’s commitment to Taiwan during his visit, promising to be a friend in “good times and bad times.”

Chen has served as the ambassador to the southern African nation, previously known as Swaziland, since September 2013.

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