Taiwan’s Diplomatic Space Shrinks Further as Burkina Faso Breaks Ties

Taiwan’s Diplomatic Space Shrinks Further as Burkina Faso Breaks Ties
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
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The African nation's decision leaves Taiwan with just 18 diplomatic allies.

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Only three days after joining with 14 other nations to propose to the United Nation's World Health Organization (WHO) that Taiwan be allowed as an observer in the international health body and its largest international meeting, the World Health Assembly, Burkina Faso on Thursday announced the severing of diplomatic ties with Taipei.

In a website statement, the Burkina Faso Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was cutting off diplomatic relations “to consider the socio-economic development of our nation and to facilitate regional development."

The statement added that the ROC ambassador was phoned with the news this morning and instructed the Taiwan representatives to leave the country. The Foreign Ministry in Taipei confirmed the termination.

In a customary gesture, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) offered a verbal resignation to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in a bid to take responsibility for Burkino Faso's decision and the corresponding loss of the Dominican Republic on May 1, though it is as yet unclear if the president will accept.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed anger and disappointment at the decision. "China has again worked to end Taiwan’s 24-year diplomatic relationship with Burkina Faso. We condemn China’s actions in the strongest terms," the statement said, adding that Taiwan will begin the process of recalling its staff, medical and technical teams.

There has as yet been no formal announcement of the establishing of diplomatic relations between the African nation and China, though it is widely expected. Burkina Faso had in past claimed that China had offered them up to US$50 billion to drop Taiwan.

This latest loss leaves Taiwan with only one diplomatic tie in Africa, eSwatini (previously known as ed Swaziland) and 17 worldwide, plus the Vatican. Since the landslide election of the pro-Taiwan independence administration of President Tsai two years ago, China has become increasingly hostile on both the diplomatic and military fronts.

Four countries have broken ties with Taiwan since her election. Burkina Faso had been Taiwan’s most populous diplomatic relation before the split, and its decision leaves Taiwan with an increasingly small collection of nations, primarily in Latin American and Oceania, still in the fold.

When the Dominican Republic announced it was switching allegiance to Beijing earlier this month, Reuters reported that China had offered US$3.1 billion worth of investments and cut-price loans to entice the country to turn his back on Taiwan, a sum that Taiwan Foreign Minister Wu referred to as "an astronomical number," illustrative of the weight of China's cheque book diplomacy.

The Burkino Faso defection comes on the heels of heightened Chinese military activity near and around Taiwan, along with increased pressure being applied to governments and businesses worldwide. China had previously issued a May 25 deadline for international airlines to designate Taiwan as a part of China, a move denigrated by the Australian and American governments, and which U.S. President Donald Trump called “Orwellian nonsense”.

Read Next: OPINION: Taiwan's Diplomatic Isolation Is a Blessing in Disguise

Editor: David Green

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