Taiwan’s leaders fear China’s pledge of $60 billion in assistance to Africa is a move to poach Swaziland, its last remaining diplomatic ally from the continent.
Top Taiwanese officials are striving to improve ties with Swaziland as they are concerned that China’s colossal investment will pressure the tiny nation.
“The ministry will keep a close eye on the issue, while doing our best to strengthen our relations with the African nation,” said a Taiwanese official to local media. “I believe our ties with Swaziland are strong at the moment.”
Beijing has a history of repeatedly calling on Swaziland to change its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, according to Taiwanese media.
Chinese President Xi’s pledge of $60 billion to Africa includes aid, investment, loans, government assistance, and infrastructure.
“China’s investment in Africa comes with no political strings attached,” said Xi. “China does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa.”
That “strings” claim is also Xi’s denial that his country engaging in “debt trap” diplomacy as Africa is already “overloaded” with Chinese debt.
Xi delivered his pledge to African leaders during Monday’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, also attended FOCAC and used the platform to blast critics who were concerned with China engaging in “new colonialism” of the continent by saying China’s development aid actually “refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe.”
It is important to note that Swaziland is almost entirely surrounded by South Africa except for its eastern side.
Correspondingly, China and South Africa have recently strengthened military ties to maintain “international and regional security and stability.”
Furthermore, Taiwan saw a peculiar hit against its sovereign status after major US airlines caved to China’s demand to change how they list Taiwan as an independent country.