Nigeria Orders Closure of Taiwan Office in Capital

Nigeria Orders Closure of Taiwan Office in Capital
Photo Credit: Reuters/達誌影像
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'Taiwan will stop enjoying any privileges because it is not a country that is recognized under international law and under the position we have taken internationally we recognize the people of China,' said Nigeria's foreign minister.

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The Nigerian Government has ordered Taiwan to close its office in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, Bloomberg reports.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama said during a press conference on Wednesday that Nigeria has withdrawn all diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Onyeama confirmed that the Taiwan office in Abuja would be closed and relocated to Lagos. The press conference was jointly held in Abuja with the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi.

“Taiwan will stop enjoying any privileges because it is not a country that is recognized under international law and under the position we have taken internationally we recognize the people of China,” said Onyeama.

The Nigerian foreign minister said that the new Taiwan office in Lagos would only be functioning as “a trade mission with a skeletal staff” since the “Chinese government does not oppose trading with Taiwan” as long as there is no formal contact between Taiwan and Nigeria that “will suggest recognition of Taiwan as sovereign country.”

Onyeama also emphasized that the decision was not made under pressure from the Chinese government. He said Nigeria recognized the People’s Republic of China as a country and was one of the African nations that had supported China in reclaiming its seat in the United Nations Security Council from Taiwan. Nigeria would “do everything” to realize the “one China policy,” said the Nigerian foreign minister.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Pei-ling (王佩玲) said at a press conference today that the ministry condemned the Nigerian government’s actions. Wang called on Nigeria to reserve space for negotiation with Taiwan under a memorandum signed in 1990 between the two countries for improving trade relations.

Following the 1990 memorandum between Taiwan and Nigeria, the Taiwan government in 1991 established a trade office in Lagos and the Nigeria Trade Office in Taiwan opened in 1992. After receiving permission from the Nigerian government, Taiwan’s office moved from Lagos to Abuja in 2001.

The Nigerian government’s announcement comes after São Tomé and Príncipe severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan on Dec. 20, 2016. Taiwan now has 21 official diplomatic allies worldwide.

The Nigeria Trade Office in Taiwan has yet to respond to the issue.

Editor: Edward White