Taiwan Foreign Minister resigns after Burkina Faso cuts ties

Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu Thursday tendered his resignation after Burkina Faso announced it was breaking diplomatic ties with the island.

"As a government official, I must be responsible for policies, and I have verbally tendered my resignation to the president," Wu told a press conference.

Wu added that Taipei was cutting relations with Burkina Faso "to safeguard our
sovereignty and dignity" and halting bilateral aid and cooperation programmes.

Burkina Faso is the second country to dump Taiwan within weeks after after Dominican Republic switched recognition to Beijing earlier this month, leaving the island with only 18 diplomatic allies around the world.

The move also left Taiwan with only one ally in Africa -- eSwatini (formerly Swaziland). It was the fourth ally Taiwan lost since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016.

It was not immediately clear if Burkina Faso and China would establish diplomatic relations but Wu said it would only be "sooner or later" and that "everyone knows China is the only factor".

"Why China chose now to steal our ally, everyone can see although we couldn't go into the WHA (World Health Assembly), but we are developing deeper relations with more and more like-minded countries. I believe China can see this," he said.

Wu's comments came after the landlocked west African state said earlier Thursday that it was breaking diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

"The Burkina government decided today to break off its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan," Foreign Minister Alpha Barry said, in an announcement that follows a string of similar moves by African states since 2000.

"Since 1994, Burkina Faso has had cooperation relations with Taiwan," Barry said in a statement.

"But today, changes in the world, the current socio-economic challenges facing our country and our region call on us to reconsider our position."

- Diplomatic tug-of-war -

China still considers Taiwan to be a renegade province to be reunified, by force if necessary, even though they split in 1949 after a civil war.

The two have been engaged for years in a diplomatic tug-of-war in developing countries. Economic support and other aid are often used as bargaining chips for diplomatic recognition.

Relations between Taiwan and China have worsened since Beijing-sceptic Tsai came to power as her government refuses to acknowledge that Taiwan is part of "one China."

"China stealing our allies, pressuring our international space won't shrink the distance across the strait and won't allow for peaceful, friendly development of cross-strait relations," Wu added.

The Dominican Republic announced on May 1 the termination of its 77-year diplomatic relations with Taiwan to recognise China, in a move Taipei blamed on "dollar diplomacy".

According to some reports, last year Beijing allegedly offered $50 billion to Burkina Faso to establish relations but the country turned it down.

Tsai dropped a plan to visit Burkina Faso in April during her first trip to Africa since taking office after its president was unable to receive her, citing scheduling conflicts.

Wu said Taipei already felt "a little unease" at that time.

Tsai's government is trying to enhance Taiwan's international profile but faces a concerted attempt by Beijing to shrink its space on global platforms.

Beijing has stepped up pressure on her government by blocking Taiwan from attending a growing list of international events and staging a string of military drills around the island.

Taiwan has accused the World Health Organization of giving in to pressure from China after it was not invited to the WHA, which is underway in Geneva




AFP

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