Taiwan has just one diplomatic ally left in Africa and China is eagerly eyeing it

Business Insider US

China's President Xi Jinping delivers a toast at a state dinner in Beijing.

  • China is eyeing off Taiwan's last diplomatic ally in Africa, Swaziland.
  • Last week Burkino Faso became the fourth country in two years to cut ties with Taiwan in favour of China, leaving Taiwan with just one ally in Africa.
  • After signing a document to formalise China-Burkino Faso relations, China's foreign minister spoke of the last country in Africa and Beijing's "sincere hope" that it soon joins the "China-Africa family."
  • China refuses to have diplomatic relations with any country that officially recognises Taiwan.

China is eyeing diplomatic relations with Swaziland, Taiwan's only official ally left in Africa.

Taiwan, a self-ruled island which Beijing considers to be a province of China, has only 18 diplomatic allies left after two countries cut ties in the last month. A month ago the Dominican Republic established relations with China, which refuses to have diplomatic relations with any country that recognises Taiwan.

And then last week Burkino Faso, Taiwan's largest partner, followed suit. That leaves Swaziland, now officially known as eSwatini, as Taiwan's only remaining ally in Africa.

But just after representatives of China and Burkino Faso signed the communique to establish their relationship, China's foreign minister Wang Yi raised the issue of Swaziland.

"There is only one country in Africa that does not have diplomatic relations with the Chinese mainland, and we sincerely hope this country joins the China-Africa family at an early date," Wang said.

Wang also said that he was confident Africa would support China in its "full national reunification," likely to be a pointed comment towards Taiwan.

Africa is also crucial to President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative, and having diplomatic ties with every country on the continent would undoubtedly make it far easier for Xi to continue expanding his global infrastructure project.

Taiwan, and a number of experts, have accused Beijing of using "debt trap diplomacy" to offer aid and loans for BRI infrastructure to poorer countries, effectively making them indebted to China.

Burkino Faso was the fourth country to break ties with Taiwan since its president came into office in 2016. Beijing has a pattern of picking off Taipei's allies when a democratic party is in power, and has ramped up efforts this year for Taiwan to be recognised as a province of China.

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