Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) says it’s Nigeria country chief has departed after Taiwan was forced to move its diplomatic mission office from the official capital of Nigeria and change its name to “TAIPEI TRADE OFFICE”, but it would strike back by asking the African country to move its representation out of Taipei City, reports said Wednesday.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) also says Nigeria’s actions are a result of Chinese pressure.
The new tension came just hours after a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Nigeria was one of five countries where Taiwanese offices faced pressure to change their name, and a day after the sudden ending to more than 100 years of relations with Panama.
MOFA first said that the representative offices in Nigeria, Bahrain, Dubai, Jordan and Ecuador were being pressured to change their names, which mostly included the terms “Republic of China” or “Taiwan.”
Later Wednesday afternoon, the government said its office in the Nigerian capital Abuja had ceased to function and the chief representative had returned to the country. The new office, in the country’s most populous city of Lagos, would bear the name “Taipei Trade Office.”
Taiwan vowed equal treatment and struck back by demanding Nigeria move its office on the island out of Taipei City, reports said.
AFTER PANAMA LEAVES TAIWAN FOR CHINA, TAIWAN HAS 20 ALLIES LEFT
Taiwan recently lost the diplomatic bidding war with China over Panama, one of Taiwan’s biggest and most geopolitically influential. But looking beneath the surface of the relationship, two things become clear; firstly, this move has been on the cards for some time, and secondly, in real terms, Taiwan is not losing too much.
China has heavy economic involvement in the Central American country. In the last year alone they have made an estimated $1 billion in infrastructure investments there, while China is also the second biggest user of the canal. Indeed, as far back as 2009, it is reported that Panama approached China about establishing diplomatic ties only to be turned down because of the so-called “truce” between Beijing and the regime of Ma Ying-jeou.
After Panama’s switching of diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China, Taiwan is left now with just 20 countries that extend it diplomatic recognition. Below is a look at recent developments in Taiwan’s diplomatic relations:
Taiwan’s recent losses can trace back to 2007, as Costa Rica became the first of Taiwan’s Central American partners to switch allegiances. The action was later followed by the African nations Malawi in 2008 and Gambia in 2013.
Formal ties between China and Gambia weren’t formed until Beijing announced its new diplomatic relations with the western African state in 2016.
Although China diminished the diplomatic pressure on Taiwan during the 2008-2016 term of China-friendly President Ma Ying-Jeou, its overall strategy of narrowing Taiwan’s breathing space has continued persistently.
In 2016, the tiny African country Sao Tome and Principe switched ties to China, marking a warning shot after the President Tsai Ing-wen took office on May.
The progressive attrition has now left Taiwan with six allies in Central and South America, six in the Asia Pacific region, five allies in Caribbean, two allies in Africa, and the Holy See, Taiwan’s sole diplomatic partner in Europe.
Experts worry about the domino effect after Panama’s breakup with Taiwan. According to Margaret Myers, the director of the Latin America and the World Program at the Inter-American Dialogue, Nicaragua might be the next nation following Panama’s act as the Chinese keep throwing economic investment at Latin America, CNA reported.
President Tsai responded to the diplomatic termination with Panama Tuesday, emphasizing that “Taiwan is a sovereign state. The sovereignty can not be challenged and exchanged.”