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Taiwan taps African diplomatic allies as launch pad into continent

2018/04/20 21:16:30

Taipei, April 20 (CNA) Taiwan views its diplomatic allies in Africa as the starting point for a step-by-step approach to engaging with and investing in the continent, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Friday as she addressed how the country would respond to China's recent attempts to expand its influence in Africa.

While speaking with reporters on her last day in Swaziland, Tsai explained Taiwan's unique way of managing its relationship with Africa, which heavily emphasizes cooperation with its two diplomatic allies on the continent, Swaziland and Burkina Faso.

These cooperative initiatives range from trade and investment to skills exchanges, professional training and education, all of which will help Taiwan's diplomatic allies build an industrial foundation while allowing Taipei to increase its influence on the continent, she noted.

The president disclosed a conversation she recently had with Swazi King Mswati III, whose birthday she celebrated the day before, about how to make these initiatives a win-win for both Taiwan and Swaziland.

During her four-day stay in the African kingdom Tsai announced a scholarship program for 100 students in need to complete their education at the Swaziland College of Technology, as well as a plan to build greenhouses in four remote villages in the country and provide local women with training in agriculture and selling their harvest.

All these projects will promote the development of Swaziland, making it an even stronger and steadfast ally of Taiwan's.

This is evident in how Swaziland has repeatedly spoken up for Taiwan's participation at the World Health Assembly (WHA) and other international organizations and events.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) added during discussions with reporters about the upcoming 71st WHA that Taiwan has talked to Swaziland about speaking on its behalf during the assembly or separately with the World Health Organization's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

As the conversation circled back to China, Tsai said the Taiwan government has a very clear stance on cross-strait relations, which is that it will work to maintain the status quo.

She continued by saying all countries in the region have a responsibility to maintain regional peace and stability and indicated she does not expect anyone, using any means, to change regional conditions.

Pressed about the stance of Premier Lai Ching-te on cross-strait relations, after Lai recently described himself as a supporter of Taiwan independence, Tsai said he felt the same way as the rest of her team about maintaining the status quo.

Tsai, who embarked with a delegation to Swaziland on Tuesday, will arrive back in Taiwan on Saturday.

While there, she celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Swaziland and of the independence of Swaziland as well as the king's 50th birthday.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Kuan-lin Liu)