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After losing Sao Tome, Taiwan to review aid to other allies

2016/12/21 20:36:31

Taipei, Dec. 21 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Wednesday issued a directive for the foreign ministry to review all of Taiwan's current aid programs with its diplomatic allies, after the African country of Sao Tome and Principe severed formal relations with Taiwan earlier in the day.

At an emergency national security meeting, Tsai said the government's policy of assisting with the national development of its diplomatic allies remains consistent and there is no need for Taiwan to engage in dollar diplomacy games against China, according to Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺).

Instead, Taiwan will remain committed to practical diplomacy and will review its aid programs to its diplomatic allies, Tsai was cited as saying.

In her directive to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to carry out the review, Tsai said Taiwan's foreign aid will be concentrated in areas such as public health, agriculture, infrastructure, energy and education, with the goal of helping to advance the national development of its diplomatic allies, according to Huang.

He said the president also asked the government's financial agencies to keep a close eye on Taiwan's stock market to see whether it was being affected by the break in diplomatic ties with Sao Tome and Principe and to respond as necessary.

Tsai also expressed the view that diplomacy is not a zero-sum game and that international participation by both sides of the Taiwan Strait is a positive development for the international community, according to Huang.

Taiwan's foreign ministry announced earlier Wednesday its decision to end diplomatic ties with Sao Tome and Principe, after the African country decided to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan, mainly due to Taipei's refusal to meet the African country's demand for financial aid.

According to a Taiwanese foreign affairs official who asked not to be named, Sao Tome and Principe had asked for US$210 million in financial aid.

Meanwhile, China has welcomed the decision by Sao Tome and Principe to sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan but did not say specifically whether it had established formal relations with the African country.

"We note that the government of Sao Tome and Principe issued a statement on Dec. 20 local time, in which it decided to break the so-called 'diplomatic' ties with Taiwan," China's foreign ministry said in a statement. "China appreciates and welcomes Sao Tome and Principe's return to the right track of the one-China principle."

In Taipei, the Presidential Office said it was "highly regrettable that China had used Sao Tome and Principe's financial woes to promote its one-China principle."

Such move by China has hurt the feelings of the Taiwanese people and harmed stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is absolutely not helpful to the development of cross-strait ties, the Presidential Office said.

Relations between China and Taiwan have cooled since President Tsai took office in May. She has refused to heed Beijing's calls to accept the so-called "1992 consensus" as the political foundation for the development of cross-strait exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a Kuomintang (KMT) government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

After losing Sao Tome and Principe, Taiwan now has two African diplomatic allies -- Swaziland and Burkina Faso -- among its remaining total of 21, most of which are Central American nations and Pacific island countries.

(By Sophia Yeh and Elaine Hou)
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