Critics are of the opinion that African countries have no business intervening in the diplomatic rift between China and Taiwan and should be careful not to take sides.
They claim that these could end up placing Africa in the path of a likely war that is bound to erupt between the two nations soon. However, with the United States of America backing Taiwan, and Japan partnering with China, this is a conflict Africa should steer clear of as much as possible.
China’s increasing presence and partnerships in Africa have seen the continent take sides with their biggest benefactors in recent times, and African countries choosing to favour the One-China Principle, and denouncing Taiwan.
In Africa, eSwatini is the only country that maintains diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which is why the country is usually not invited to the China-Africa Summits. They do not also share financial pledges made by the Asian giants to the continent.
eSwatini recognized Taiwan, thereby losing all ties with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on 16 September 1968 and has since maintained formal diplomatic relations with the country. The African country is one of only 14 nations that recognize Taiwan officially, including the Vatican City, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, and the Marshall Islands.
In a recent development that has made critics question the role of China in influencing African countries to denounce Taiwan and whether they are being paid to do, the Nigerian government ordered Taiwan’s unofficial embassy to move out of the country shortly after receiving a $40 billion pledge from China.
Although they do not have the presence of embassies in the continent, Taiwan has operated unofficial embassies known as trade missions in some African countries. But the Nigerian government has given Taiwan a quit notice from the nation’s capital of Abuja.
“We recognize the People’s Republic of China, the one-China Policy,” Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama said on 11 January 2023, after a meeting with China’s foreign minister Wang Yi. Onyeama was referring to the doctrine that only one China exists, and that is the one represented by the Chinese communist party in Beijing.
In their response, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it strongly “condemns the unreasonable, rude, and outrageous act of political hype carried out by the Nigerian government in complying with mainland China’s political goals.” The ministry said it would be sending an envoy to deal with the issue.
Over the past couple of years, China has increased its partnerships and financial commitment to African nations, which has led to more African countries publicly denouncing ties with Taiwan.
Then, last year the Gambia resumed ties with China after severing its diplomatic relations with Taiwan. China was also involved in Kenyan authorities’ decision to extradite a group of Taiwanese, tried and acquitted of cybercrime charges in Nairobi, to China instead of Taiwan. That was despite an agreement between Beijing and Taipei in 2011 not to extradite each other’s citizens.
In late December, the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe rescinded official recognition of Taiwan, leaving Taipei with only two diplomatic partners on the continent, Swaziland and Burkina Faso, and 21 in the world. Zambia, which already recognizes Beijing, also reiterated its allegiance to the One-China policy during a visit from China’s foreign minister this week.
Nigeria’s latest move marks the beginning of another stage in this renewed rivalry: China may no longer be content to block diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. Instead, Beijing wants to limit Taiwan’s international space, even through unofficial channels like trade missions. Despite its dwindling number of diplomatic partners, Taiwan has maintained economic and cultural ties with trade missions and cultural offices in countries that don’t recognize Taipei.
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