China and Gambia resume diplomatic ties

2016-03-17 15:58

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Beijing - Taiwan faces increasing diplomatic isolation after China announced on Thursday it will resume ties with the island's former ally Gambia.

China suspended relations with Gambia in 1995, when the African nation chose to officially recognise self-ruled Taiwan.

Though Taiwan is self-ruled and split from the mainland in 1949 after a civil war, Beijing has repeatedly asserted its belief that there is only "one China" and that the island is still part of its territory awaiting reunification.

"The 'one China' principle' is the political premise and foundation for China's establishment and development of diplomatic ties with any nation," China's foreign ministry said in a statement announcing the rapprochement with Gambia.

"We trust that the Gambian government will scrupulously abide by the 'one China' principle and support the great cause of China's peaceful reunification," it added.

Gambia was not to establish any official relations or engage in any official contact with Taiwan in the future, it stated.

The statement was issued following a meeting between Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and his Gambian counterpart Neneh MacDouall Gaye on Thursday.

Gambia officially recognised Taiwan for 18 years before it broke off relations in 2013.

The break left the island with formal diplomatic ties to only 22 states, including just three in Africa - Swaziland, Sao Tome and Principe, and Burkina Faso.

For years, China and Taiwan were locked in a bitter diplomatic tug-of-war, luring away each other's allies with generous financial packages in so-called "chequebook diplomacy".

China is one of Gambia's top trading partners. In 2014, China was the fourth largest importer of its goods and the third largest exporter presence in the country, according to UN Comtrade data.

The resumption of diplomatic ties "reflects the shared wishes of the people of both nations" and was "in accordance with the basic interests" of both countries, the foreign ministry statement said.

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