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Tshwane mayor's Taiwan visit breaches S. Africa's foreign policy: DIRCO

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-01-03 09:24

CAPE TOWN - The recent trip to Taiwan by Solly Msimanga, Executive Mayor of Tshwane (Pretoria) was in breach of South Africa's foreign policy and is highly regretted, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said on Monday.

DIRCO was made aware of the visit and advised Msimanga not to undertake the visit as it would constitute a breach of South Africa's "One China" policy, DIRCO spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

"In a move that is highly regrettable, Mayor Msimanga disregarded DIRCO's advice and proceeded with the visit," said Monyela.

Msimanga, a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), visited Taipei, Taiwan during the Christmas holiday, in defiance of the one-China policy pursued by the central government. The visit has drawn wide criticism.

Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign state by South Africa and the United Nations, DIRCO said in a statement.

South Africa maintains a Liaison Office in Taipei as does the Taiwanese in Pretoria. The Liaison Office does not enjoy the status of an Embassy. The Liaison offices arrangement was agreed upon to facilitate people to people contact. It has no political mandate and therefore interaction between political office bearers is not allowed, DIRCO said.

"Cabinet has in the past decided that representatives of government across all three spheres coordinate all their foreign engagements with DIRCO so as to ensure synergy and maintain a cohesive approach in dealing with any international entity or government," said Monyela.

Representatives of any sphere of government must ensure that their engagements with international entities are aligned to existing mechanism and programmed and that such relations are coordinated in a manner that advances South Africa's foreign policy and national interests, he said.

Earlier on Monday, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) also slammed Msimanga's visit to Taiwan, saying the visit is in disrespect of the Constitution.

As Mayor of the City of Tshwane, Msimanga is a senior government official and therefore bound by existing government policy which de-recognizes Taiwan, the ANC said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

The City of Tshwane "is not an autonomous state which acts on a frolic of its own outside of government policy", the ANC said.

The ANC called on DIRCO to urgently confiscate all official and diplomatic passports from officials who are found to be wilfully undermining the foreign policy.

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