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Beijing could continue to lure away Taiwan's allies: experts

ROC Central News Agency

2016/12/22 15:52:34

Washington, Dec. 21 (CNA) China will continue to explore the possibility of luring away countries that maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan in the wake of one of them severing official ties with Taiwan, two China experts have said.

Sao Tome and Principe, a small West African nation, announced Wednesday an end to its 19-year-old diplomatic ties with Taiwan amid reports that Taiwan has refused its request for US$210 million in aid.

Douglas Paal, a former Taipei Office director of the American Institute in Taiwan, said that before a planned visit in January by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to four countries in Central America -- Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador -- China could explore the possibility of luring them away, either now or during her visit.

Paal, who visited both sides of the Taiwan Strait recently, said that there are some in Beijing who believe China should react more strongly to Tsai's Dec. 2 phone call to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump said later that he would not feel "bound by a one-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade."

Walter Lohman, director of the Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center, said that it must have been Sao Tome and Principe that took the initiative to get in touch with China, and that he believes Beijing will continue to explore the possibility of luring away Taiwan's other diplomatic allies.

Lohman pointed out that other recent incidents, such as Beijing seizing a U.S. underwater drone in the contentious South China Sea, are all part of China's reaction to the changes in the triangular relations among the United States, China and Taiwan.

The focus now will be on when China and Sao Tome and Principe will establish diplomatic ties, he went on, saying that the longer it takes, the more it will show that it was Sao Tome and Principe that took the initiative.

Lohman also said that China's attitude toward Taiwan has been consistent since Tsai won the presidential election in January, adding that he believes Beijing will continue to explore the possibility of luring away Taiwan's allies.

He pointed out that China certainly is not happy with Trump's recent moves, but he said Beijing will observe developments and try to sway the new U.S. government.

After losing Sao Tome and Principe, Taiwan now has two African diplomatic allies -- Swaziland and Burkina Faso -- among its remaining total of 21, most of which are Central American nations and Pacific island countries.

(By Tony Liao and Lilian Wu)
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