Relocation of Taiwan's office in Nigeria hits obstacles: MOFA

07/04/2017 01:52 PM
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Taipei, July 4 (CNA) The relocation of Taiwan's trade office out of Nigeria's capital of Abuja has begun, but the move has been hampered by the host government's decision to seal off the office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday.

The Nigerian government ordered Taiwan in January to move its office from the capital, change the name of the office -- the Trade Mission of the Republic of China (Taiwan) -- -- and cut office staff.

It also demanded on March 31 that the trade office's director, Morgan Chao (趙家寶), leave the country, as it could not guarantee his safety. Chao has since returned to Taiwan.

Then, on June 30, Nigeria sent military personnel to seal off the trade office and force staff there to leave.

MOFA spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) confirmed on Tuesday that Taiwan has decided to move the office to Lagos and has scheduled the relocation to be completed in three months.

But because the trade office is still being sealed off by military personnel, office staff cannot get in, hampering the move, Wang said.

The ministry has negotiated with Nigeria to withdraw the military presence at the Abuja office to allow the relocation process to continue smoothly.

It has also twice summoned the acting director of Nigeria's trade office in Taipei to express a serious protest over a series of moves by the African country against Taiwan's interests and asked the office to move out of Taipei based on the principles of equality and dignity.

Nigeria's moves have been made under pressure from China, which has stepped up its suppression of Taiwan in the international community since the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office on May 20, 2016.

In mid-June, for example, China enticed Panama to switch diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing and cut all official ties with Taiwan, the second ally Beijing has lured away since Tsai took power.

That left only 20 countries that officially recognize Taiwan, known officially as the Republic of China.

Tsai's government has taken a less conciliatory stance toward Beijing than its predecessor, and Beijing has cut off official contacts and taken a harsher stance against Taiwan as a result.

(by Scarlette Chai and Lilian Wu)Enditem/ls

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