China, Sao Tome and Principe resume diplomatic ties

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi chats with his Sao Tome counterpart Urbino Botelho after signing an agreement in Beijing on December 26.- AFP

After Chinese Nationalist forces were defeated by Mao Zedong's Communists, the Nationalist government moved to Taiwan in 1949.

Most of the world does not formally recognize Taiwan as a condition of maintaining relations with China.

"Sao Tome is a small, island nation, with very friendly people".

Last Wednesday, Beijing issued a statement welcoming Sao Tome's decision to split with Taiwan, which it has recognised since 1997.

The Foreign Ministry said that Sao Tome and Principe, lured by China's dollar diplomacy, has turned away from Taiwan despite the major contributions it has made to the improvement of the health and wellbeing of the Sao Tome and Principe people over the years.

The former Portuguese colony's tiny island economy is heavily dependent on cocoa exports but its position in the middle of the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea has raised interest in its potential as a possible oil and gas producer.

In re-establishing relations with Beijing, Botelho said Monday, "We want to redeem our mistakes in the past".

Also on Monday, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao met with Botelho, saying the restoration of diplomatic relations is in line with the fundamental interests of both countries.

Following the break, Taipei only has official diplomatic relations with 21 countries.

The US-China relation entered into rough waters recently when US President elect, Donald Trump spoke to Taiwan's President Tsai Lng-wen earlier this month, media reported.

Beijing suspended contact with the main Taiwan liaison body in June, blaming Tsai's refusal to endorse the concept of a single Chinese nation.

Wang Dong, a professor of worldwide relations at Peking University, said Monday's re-establishment of diplomatic ties was a warning to Taiwan that Beijing has "a lot of counter-measures" up its sleeve should they pursue independence, as well as a warning to the United States.

Wang said China eyes cooperation with the island country within the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.

"The U.S. won't gain anything if they play with the one-China policy", he said. This claim has been recognized by the US since 1979.

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