China blasts planned Taiwan-Africa meetings

China blasted planned meetings between Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian and African allies this weekend.

Chen was scheduled on Sunday to meet leaders from Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Malawi, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Swaziland — an apparent attempt to cut into rival China’s growing influence in the region.

Discussions will centre on how Taiwan can help the African countries with healthcare, information technology and development.

”We strongly oppose it,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Yu, said on Saturday.

”The real purpose of hosting these so-called summits by the government of Chen Shui-bian is not to support the development of Africa and seek benefit for the Taiwanese people,” Jiang said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

”It is for the personal gain of individuals and the political party and it attempts to carry out ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist activities internationally, so as to … damage friendly ties between China and Africa,” the statement said.

China and Taiwan split during civil war in 1949, and the mainland continues to claim the self-ruled island of Taiwan as part of its territory. Beijing opposes anything that appears to give Taipei the trappings of sovereignty — including formal ties with other countries.

China and Taiwan both engage in ”dollar diplomacy” to win diplomatic alliances with other nations by offering aid and assistance.

Taiwan now shares official ties with only 24 countries. Except for the Vatican, its allies are mostly poor nations in Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific.

Last year, China rolled out the red carpet for leaders from almost 50 African nations for the first summit between Chinese and African officials, showcasing a vigorous relationship centered around oil and aid.

”The success of the China-Africa cooperation summit last year in Beijing pushed ties to a new phase of development,” Jiang said. ”The move by the Chen Shui-bian government to push forward secessionist activities by using the Taiwan-Africa summit runs counter to the general trend of the times.”

”This attempt cannot succeed,” she said. – Sapa-AP

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