Malawi ends ties with Taiwan in favour of China

Malawi has cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan after 41 years and established links with China, which has become a major economic power in Africa.

”We have decided to switch from Taiwan to mainland China after careful consideration of the benefits that we will be getting from mainland China,” Foreign Affairs Minister Joyce Banda told a press conference in the capital, Lilongwe, on Monday.

She said Lilongwe and Beijing had formalised diplomatic ties effective from December 27 2007.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said the island would break off ties with Malawi immediately and expressed regret China was continuing to lure its allies with financial incentives.

China’s government and its state-controlled companies have invested billions of dollars in Africa in a bid to tap natural resources for the Asian giant’s growing economy and build Beijing’s political influence in the developing world.

”It is with regret that the government and leaders of Malawi are unwilling to honour their promises to our government and have succumbed to China’s evil forces,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Malawian and Taiwanese media earlier this month said the Southern African nation’s government cancelled a meeting with Taiwanese officials, raising speculation Lilongwe might end diplomatic relations with the island nation in favour of China.

Malawi has been Taiwan’s diplomatic ally since 1966. China, which regards the self-ruled democratic island as its own, has tried to isolate Taiwan diplomatically by offering financial incentives to its allies.

Taiwan’s hopes of maintaining relations with the Southern Africa nation were dealt a blow recently when the government in Taipei said it could not match a Chinese offer to provide $6-billion in aid to Malawi, one of Africa’s poorest countries.

Banda said she did not know how much money China would ultimately donate to Malawi.

She said projects funded by Taiwan, including a highway that extends to the border with Zambia, were discussed with China and would not be affected by the change in diplomatic relations.

The number of countries that recognise Taiwan has dwindled sharply since the United States, once Taiwan’s biggest backer, formally recognised China in the wake of former United States president Richard Nixon’s 1972 trip to China.

The vast majority of the world — about 170 countries — recognise China in step with Beijing’s ”One China” diplomatic stance. — Reuters

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Mabvuto Banda
Mabvuto Banda works from Nairobi, Lilongwe. African journalist tweeting in my own capacity. Writes for Reuters, Inter Press, NewAfrican, and other leading publications Mabvuto Banda has over 10153 followers on Twitter.

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