Burkina Faso Cuts Ties With Taiwan, Dealing It Another Blow

Burkina Faso Cuts Ties With Taiwan, Dealing It Another Blow
The 2 Week Diet


TAIPEI, Taiwan — The West African nation of Burkina Faso announced on Thursday that it was ending official diplomatic relations with Taiwan’s government, a new challenge to the self-governing democracy as Beijing increasingly tries to isolate it on the global stage.

The break leaves Taiwan with only one diplomatic ally in Africa — the small kingdom of Swaziland — and formal relations worldwide with 17 other countries, most of them poorer nations in Central America and the Pacific, along with the Vatican.

“The evolution of the world and the defined socio-economic challenges of our region required us to reconsider our position,” the Burkina Faso foreign affairs minister, Alpha Barry, said in a statement.

He made no direct mention of China, whose increasing economic clout and geopolitical influence have made it difficult for countries to remain aligned with Taiwan.

Speaking at a hastily arranged news conference in Taipei, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said that Burkina Faso’s decision had caused “sadness, anger, and regret” in Taiwan.

He had more pointed words for Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own territory under its “One China” principle but has never ruled it and has long refused to have diplomatic relations with any country that officially recognizes Taiwan.

“I’d like to emphasize that when China snatches our diplomatic allies and suppresses Taiwan’s diplomatic space, it doesn’t shrink the distance between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Mr. Wu said. “And it won’t make cross-strait relations develop in a peaceful, friendly direction.”

China’s Communist Party has been ratcheting up pressure since President Tsai Ing-wen, whose party has traditionally favored independence for Taiwan, took office two years ago, but Ms. Tsai said Taiwan “will not cower at all” in the face of pressure from Beijing.

Burkina Faso is the fourth country to cut ties with Taiwan since Ms. Tsai’s election in early 2016. The Dominican Republic said last month that it would establish diplomatic relations with Beijing, citing hopes for improved commercial ties.

Panama and São Tomé and Príncipe have also shut out Taipei in the interim, while Gambia, which cut ties with Taiwan in 2013, recognized China before Ms. Tsai’s inauguration.

Lu Kang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement that Beijing appreciated Burkina Faso’s decision.

“This is the great, unstoppable trend,” he said. “We welcome Burkina Faso to join the big family of Chinese-African friendship and cooperation on the basis of the ‘One China’ principle.”

The loss of Burkina Faso comes at the end of a week that began with a demonstration of American commitment to its friendly but unofficial relations with Taiwan.

Washington ended its formal relationship with Taipei in 1979 in order to establish official ties with Beijing, but the Taiwan Relations Act, passed by Congress in 1979, mandates that the United States help Taiwan protect itself.

On Monday, Kin W. Moy, director of the American Institute of Taiwan, the State Department’s unofficial presence on the island, announced that it would dedicate its new compound — an embassy in all but name — on June 12.

Speaking to a news conference filled with local journalists, Mr. Moy praised the increased closeness between the United States and Taiwan in recent years.

“I’m pretty confident that we will continue, when we move over to our new building, to forge more and more cooperation with Taiwan,” he said. “That’s the area where we’re most proud — we can say that there’s more cooperation going on between the two sides than there ever has been before.”

Taiwan also has close relations with Japan and the European Union, but it is the ties with the United States that many observers believe are crucial to deterring a potential invasion from the mainland’s more powerful military.

Mr. Wu, Taiwan’s foreign minister, said continued Chinese aggression would only serve to further develop the island’s existing relationships.

“This approach by China is not going to stop such developments,” he said. “It will only make our resolve to develop relations with like-minded countries stronger and stronger.”

Chris Buckley contributed reporting from Beijing.



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