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Leader of Sao Tome, Principe tells why he cut Taiwan ties

By Mo Jingxi | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-24 06:56

China's importance as a strategic partner and the need to improve the lives of the people of Sao Tome and Principe made breaking relations with Taiwan the right decision, Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada said on Thursday.

It was the first official comment after the African island nation announced on Tuesday that it had severed ties with Taiwan that had been established in 1997.

"We have our program and we have a commitment to the people to improve their living conditions," he was quoted by Reuters as saying, adding that China is "a very important strategic relationship".

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Friday that Trovoada's statement voiced a profound truth in clear language - the one-China principle has increasingly been endorsed.

"We believe that China's win-win and open-minded cooperation with other countries will be conducive to their economic and social development," she said.

When asked whether China has a strategy for encouraging other countries to cut relations with Taiwan, Hua said: "You (the journalist) used a lot of interesting words. ... If China does have a strategy, it is that we always insist on developing friendly partnerships with countries around the world, on the basis of the one-China principle and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence."

Those five principles are: mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty; mutual non-aggression; mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs; equality and cooperation for mutual benefit; and peaceful co-existence.

Earlier, Hua dismissed accusations that China engaged in "dollar diplomacy" to get Sao Tome and Principe to cut ties with Taiwan.

"How can the recognition of the one-China principle be bought with money? The Chinese government never trades on its principles," she said.

Lin Gang, a professor of Taiwan Studies with the School of International and Public Affairs at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said the global community has a broad consensus over the one-China principle, and "Sao Tome and Principe's decision simply conforms to such a trend".

According to Lin, there is no need at all for China to play the "money game", because the large Chinese market can provide a lot of commercial opportunities for other countries that outweigh any money that Taiwan could provide.

Wang Hailiang, a researcher of Taiwan studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the breaking of ties also sent a warning to Taiwan authorities not to challenge the one-China principle. "This is only a beginning, and there will be more countries that choose to cut their 'diplomatic ties' with Taiwan," he said.

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