Nigeria clarifies ties with Taiwan
Nigeria’s presidency has dismissed what it called ‘incorrect media reports’ to the effect that Nigeria has cut ties with Taiwan, African media reports said.The dismissal came a day after Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister said Taiwan will stop enjoying any privileges from Nigeria.
“The correct position is that the official relationship between Nigeria and Taiwan has been at the level of trade representation and this has not changed from what it used to be,” the reports quoted a statement released by the senior special assistant to the president as saying.
“Taiwan trade office is the only Taiwanese representation in Nigeria and Nigeria’s trade office in Taipei is our only representation in Taiwan,” said Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu,
“Nigeria recognizes and will sustain the “One China” policy and nothing has happened so far to change that level of relationship,” he added.
Nigeria’s reaction followed complaints from Taipei to a Nigerian request to the island to relocate its representative office in Abuja to Lagos, a request Taiwan sees as more pressure by China to isolate it, the News Agency of Nigeria reported.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province, subject to eventual unification.Taiwan has no diplomatic ties with Nigeria but has an office for handling business affairs in the Nigerian capital.
On Wednesday, Nigerian officials asked Taipei to move its office from Abuja to its former capital, Lagos.
Taiwan called on Nigeria to consider the issue as both sides have an understanding based on reciprocity, under which Nigeria runs a trade office in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.
“We urge Nigeria to leave room for discussion,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the request to move the trade office.
“The foreign ministry seriously objects and condemns the unreasonable actions by the Nigerian government,” it said.
Nigerian officials met their Chinese counterparts in Abuja on Wednesday and pledged to stick to Beijing’s “one China” policy, that Taiwan is a part of China, media reported.
Taiwan has 21 formal allies, only two in Africa. Last month, former African ally Sao Tome switched its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.
In countries with which Taiwan has no formal diplomatic relations it often sets up trade and commerce offices, in capitals and major cities.
While economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan have grown considerably in recent years, their relations have worsened since Tsai Ing-wen, who heads a pro-independence party, was elected president of the island last year.
Beijing has been stepping up pressure on her to concede to its “one China” principle.