It is no news that China holds African countries by the leash, but not eSwatini!
China is attempting to persuade eSwatini to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but the small landlocked Southern African country is resisting these attempts.
eSwatini’s King Mswati III, while visiting Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in April last year, rebuffed any thought of dumping Taiwan for China. He insisted that Beijing “must forget about having us in their stable”.
It has been reported by Reuters that China has continued in “upping the pressure on the country formerly known as Swaziland”; now Taiwan’s only ally in Africa.
eSwatini is on record to be the world’s last absolute monarchy, and one of the only 17 countries worldwide that officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country.
China does not recognize any country which recognizes Taiwan as an independent country because China regards the Island country as a rouge territory.
Since the 1970s, China’s influence in Africa has grown through a combination of “inducements and deals, loans and intense diplomatic pressure which has enabled Beijing to pick off one African country at a time,” according to CNN.
eSwatini’s stubbornness and decision to stick with Taiwan – a country that has stood by them for many years - has not gone down well with China. The Asian giants have cut the country from benefiting from its numerous loan and trade deals with the continent.
It was believed that without the help of China, which has become Africa’s biggest ally, eSwatini would be unable to attract any tangible investment and development. But each time, the country has proved both China and its other African brothers wrong.
The Kingdom of eSwatini has signed a financing agreement worth €1.2 million (over $1.36 million) with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the EU to construct a modern multi-purpose Trade Hub.
The Trade Hub is being constructed in Manzini, the country’s second largest urban center behind Mbabane, which has a population of 78,000 people.
It is expected to accommodate 300 traders and impact over 400 businesses as well as enhance the performance of the leather value chain in the country. It is also expected to help the country attain the required economic transformation that would benefit the good people of eSwatini.
The agreement was signed by the country’s Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg and the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Manqoba Khumalo on behalf of the Eswatini government, while COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe signed for COMESA. The Head of Cooperation at the European Union Office in Eswatini Ariane Labat signed for the EU.
Speaking after the signing, the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry said:
“The construction of the Trade hub locally known as ‘INHLANGANISELA YABOMAKE’ will bring relief to the majority of handcraft artisans, most of whom currently operate in the open in backyards spread across the country. The new facility will also protect the artisans from unfavorable weather conditions which makes it difficult for them to operate.”
On his part, the Secretary-General Kapwepwe added that:
“This project preserves the Kingdom’s unique culture by pulling on the knowledge of the gatekeepers of Eswatini traditions while applying modern technologies and designs that are attractive to an international market.”
What are your thoughts?
Quotes and Header Image Credit: The Nerve Africa