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China Resumes Ties With São Tomé, Which Turned Away From Taiwan

BEIJING — China officially resumed diplomatic relations with São Tomé and Príncipe on Monday after that African island nation abruptly severed ties with Taiwan last week.

The move is a victory for Beijing, which considers the self-governing island of Taiwan a part of China’s territory and has been outraged by suggestions by President-elect Donald J. Trump that he could rethink American policy that acknowledges this.

Beijing and Taipei have competed for allies for much of the nearly seven decades since the end of China’s civil war in 1949, when the defeated Nationalist government fled across the Taiwan Strait.

The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, and his counterpart from São Tomé, Urbino Botelho, appeared together on Monday at a ceremony in Beijing. Mr. Wang said that re-establishing relations would benefit both countries.

Most of the world does not formally recognize Taiwan, a condition of maintaining relations with China. Twenty-one countries and governments, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, have official ties with Taiwan.

The Taiwanese foreign minister, David Lee, last week accused São Tomé of demanding “an astronomical amount of financial help,” though he did not say how much.

São Tomé is an island nation off the coast of west-central Africa with a population of almost 200,000. An impoverished former Portuguese colony, it relies heavily on foreign aid. Beijing suspended its relationship with São Tomé in 1997 after the island nation established diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

In a statement, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed its “strong disappointment and regret that São Tomé has been confused by the diplomatic money campaign of mainland China and ignored the years of our great contributions to the health and well-being of the people of São Tomé.”

As its economic, military and political clout has grown, China has become more successful in pulling away governments in a bid to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, though some countries, including the United States, maintain strong unofficial ties with Taipei.

Relations have worsened between Beijing and Taipei since the independence-leaning president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, was elected in January.

Wang Dong, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said the re-establishment of diplomatic ties was a warning to Taiwan that Beijing has “a lot of countermeasures” up its sleeve should the island pursue independence, as well as a warning to the United States.

“The U.S. won’t gain anything if they play with the One China policy,” he said. “It is also a warning to those in the U.S. who tolerate and support the Taiwanese independence forces.”

Source: NYT > World

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