Sat, Sep 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ministry says Eswatini report was ‘fake news’

Staff writer, with CNA and Reuters

Department of West Asian and African Affairs Director-General Liu Bang-zyh is pictured during a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei on July 5.

Photo: CNA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said reports that the Kingdom of Eswatini was planning to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan were part of a “disinformation campaign,” urging the public not to be misled by “fake news.”

The reports originated from a foreign-based Web site that uses simplified Chinese characters, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said, adding that it was the latest attack by foreign hostile forces against the Republic of China.

Ambassador to Eswatini Jeremy Liang (梁洪昇) presented his credentials to the African nation’s monarch, King Mswati III, on Thursday, Lee said.

Eswatini is the only nation in Africa that still recognizes Taipei rather than Beijing — Burkina Faso cut ties with Taiwan in May — in a diplomatic tug-of-war between Taiwan and China.

Including Burkina Faso, three nations have switched recognition to Beijing this year, leaving Taiwan with only 17 allies amid increasing pressure by China.

China is to host an Africa summit in Beijing next week.

King Mswati plans to be at home, hosting thousands of young Swazi women celebrating chastity in a lavish week-long ceremony for Africa’s last absolute monarch.

“Everywhere in the world, culture is the soul of a nation, only a political imbecile would put a regional meeting above the soul of the nation,” Swazi government spokesman Percy Simelane said.

While there has been some domestic criticism that only the royal family benefits from ties with Taipei, Simelane, who also speaks on behalf of the king, said that the nation has been good to Eswatini.

“The people of Eswatini have been benefiting from the cordial relations with Taiwan since independence 50 years ago,” Simelane said. “The nation is benefiting and by extension, as expected, the leader benefits.”

“Taiwanese doctors continue to be pillars of our health system. To say it is the king alone who benefits is a projection of political bankruptcy on the part of the accuser,” he said.

Since 1975, Taiwan has been spending a lot on projects in Eswatini, including a hospital, a rural electrification project and a new airport.

Asked about the suggestion that Eswatini would benefit from ties with China, the ministry told Reuters: “Taiwan has a deep, friendly and stable relationship with Eswatini ... and the two countries’ future cooperation prospects are optimistic.”

“Taiwan’s government will also help improve the lives of Eswatini’s people in any ways that it can,” the ministry said.

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