Thu, Aug 23, 2018 - Page 3 News List

DIPLOMACY: Eswatini not switching ties: Wu

NOT-SO SUBTLE:The Chinese assistant foreign minister said Beijing hopes that no African nations are ‘left behind’ ahead of next month’s forum with African leaders

By Lu Yi-hsuan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu talks to reporters at the ministry yesterday, saying that Taiwan’s diplomatic ally Eswatini would not switch ties from Taiwan to China.

Photo: CNA

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday dismissed a remark by a senior Chinese diplomat that Taiwan’s sole diplomatic ally in Africa, Eswatini, would soon switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a public event at the ministry in Taipei, Wu said speculations about Eswatini switching allegiance to Beijing are nothing but a “phony issue.”

“I just had lunch with Eswatini Foreign Minister Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze to talk about how to deepen our bilateral relations,” Wu said.

The ministry has also said several times that ties between Taiwan and Eswatini are strong, and that the latter has specifically told Taipei that it would not attend the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation next month in Beijing.

Gamedze on Tuesday arrived in Taiwan for a three-day visit, the same day that Taipei cut diplomatic ties with El Salvador after learning of its plan to switch recognition to Beijing, the ministry said.

Shortly after Taipei’s move, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) and acting Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Castaneda signed a communique in Beijing establishing formal diplomatic ties.

Taiwan on Tuesday vowed to fight China’s “increasingly out-of-control” behavior and pledged not to engage in a diplomatic bidding war with Beijing.

El Salvador is the fifth nation to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, following Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso.

Ahead of next month’s summit between Chinese and African leaders in Beijing, China has been increasing pressure on Eswatini, Taiwan’s last ally on the continent, to switch to China, diplomatic sources have said.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing about the summit, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong (陳曉東) said that Eswatini did not have relations with China “for reasons that everyone knows.”

“We look forward to and hope that all African nations, with none left behind, can take part in positive China-Africa cooperation, and become a member of the largest family get-together,” Chen said.

“I believe that this is not just the pursuit of China, it is also a widespread shared expectation of African nations. I believe that this target can in the not too distant future be realized,” he added, without elaborating.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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