BEIJING Dec 22 China on Thursday dismissed
accusations from Taiwan that it engaged in "dollar diplomacy" to
get Sao Tome and Principe to ditch ties with the self-ruled
island, saying a petty Taiwan was besmirching China's good name.
The tiny West African state's decision this week has angered
Taiwan, which says the move will not help already strained
relations with China.
Taiwan says China took advantage of Sao Tome's financial
woes to push its "one China" principle, that states Taiwan is
part of China, ineligible for diplomatic recognition, adding
Taiwan would not exchange cash for diplomatic favours.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on
Thursday the "one China" principle was a common consensus of the
international community, and that China welcomed Sao Tome back
on to the correct track of recognising this.
"How can the 'one China' principle be traded for money? The
Chinese government has never traded away its principles," she
told a daily news briefing.
"As for what certain people say in Taiwan, I can only say
don't gauge the heart of a gentleman with your own mean
Despite Sao Tome's announcement, China has yet to formally
say if it has now established formal diplomatic relations with
the former Portuguese colony, and Hua said she had no further
information on that.
She did however confirm that China had established a liaison
office in Sao Tome in November 2013 for trade and cultural
exchanges, and that trade between the two was worth just $8
million in 2015.
Sao Tome and Principe's tiny island economy is heavily
dependent on cocoa exports but its position in the middle of the
oil-rich Gulf of Guinea has raised interest in its potential as
a possible oil and gas producer.
China and Taiwan have over the years tried to poach each
other's allies, often dangling generous aid packages in front of
China is deeply suspicious of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen,
who it thinks wants to push for the island's formal
independence, though she says she wants to maintain peace with
China's claim to Taiwan has shot back into the spotlight
since U.S. President-elect Donald Trump broke diplomatic
protocol and spoke with Tsai this month, angering Beijing.
Trump has also questioned the "one China" policy which the
United States has followed since establishing relations with
Beijing in 1979, under which the United States acknowledges the
Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)