(BEIJING) – China increased diplomatic pressure on Taiwan on Saturday by urging the self-ruled island’s last African ally, Swaziland, to align with Beijing as Burkina Faso re-established Chinese ties.
Taiwan, which is claimed by China as its own, is Beijing’s most sensitive territorial issue. Beijing says Taiwan is merely a Chinese province, with no right to state-to-state relations.
China has mounted a concerted campaign over the past two years to lure away Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies, as it seeks to pressure Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who it fears wants to push for the island’s formal independence.
Tsai says she wants to maintain the status quo but will not be bullied by China and will defend Taiwan and its democracy.
On Thursday, the West African state of Burkina Faso said it was severing ties with Taiwan, the second country in a month to abandon Taipei, following the Dominican Republic.
Taiwan now has only one diplomatic ally left in Africa — the tiny kingdom of Swaziland — and official relations with just 18 countries worldwide, many of them poor nations in Central America and the Pacific such as Belize and Nauru.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing after signing an agreement to re-establish relations with Burkina Faso, the Chinese government’s top diplomat State Councillor Wang Yi noted that only one African state had yet to come over to China.
“We sincerely hope that this county will join the family of China-Africa friendship at an early date,” Wang said, with Burkinabe Foreign Minister Alpha Barry at his side.
Wang added he was confident that all of Africa would stand by China’s side “in the historic cause of China’s full national reunification”.