Taiwan regrets Sao Tome termination of diplomatic ties (update)
Taipei, Dec. 21 (CNA) Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) on Wednesday expressed deep regret at the decision by Sao Tome and Principe to sever diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan).
"We deeply regret Sao Tome and Principe's decision to terminate diplomatic ties with our country on Dec. 21. To uphold our nation's dignity, we have decided to end diplomatic ties with Sao Tome and Principe, withdraw our embassy and technical personnel and end all bilateral cooperation effective immediately," Lee said at a news conference.
Lee said that since the two countries established diplomatic ties in May 1997, Taiwan has actively asissted the west African country in the areas of public health, infrastructure, agriculture and energy.
For example, an advisory team from Taiwan has helped reduce the incidence of malaria from 50 percent in 2003 to 1.01 percent in 2015, Lee said.
He pointed out that exchanges between diplomatic allies should be based on the principles of integrity and mutual benefit, but said the financial woes facing Sao Tome and Principe were of such a magnitude that Taiwan was unable to meet its demands.
As a result the country has decided to turn its back on two decades of diplomatic ties with the ROC in a bid to curry favor with China.
Lee would not confirm the amount of funding Sao Tome and Principe sought to remain a diplomatic ally, but said that it was "an astronomical figure."
He expressed regret and condemned the "reckless and unfriendly decision and action of Sao Tome and Principe."
Lee led a delegation to the country to attend the inauguration ceremony of President Evaristo Carvalho on Sept. 3. Foreign officials said at the time that Carvalho's son and daughter were studying for doctoral and master degrees in Taiwan.
China established diplomatic ties with Sao Tome and Principe, a former Portugese colony, after it declared independence in 1975.
Following the nation's latest decision, Taiwan now has 21 diplomatic allies. In Africa, only Burkina Faso and Swaziland maintain formal ties with Taiwan.
In March this year, China and The Gambia issued a joint statement indicating the reestablishment of diplomatic relations, ending 21 years of official ties between The Gambia and Taiwan.
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