Burkina Faso became the latest African nation to break ties with Taiwan, the independent Asian island that China wants to control. As part of a “one China” push, the mainland has been pressuring Taiwan to come under its rule while slowly luring away all of its trade partners.
Over the last decade, Taiwan has lost nearly all of its trade partners in Africa (as well as the Dominican Republic). Tiny Swaziland and a handful of other small nations are all that remain,
The Burkina’s foreign ministry released a statement today saying that their reason for the break has nothing to do with China, but rather “the evolution of the world and the socio-economic challenges of our country and region push us to reconsider our position.”
Taiwan has accused China of luring its friends away with offers of generous aid packages, a claim that China denies.
Here are the facts:
Beijing, China is Africa’s biggest trade partner. China has surpassed the United States in foreign aid to Africa. Throughout the continent of Africa China is building and donating billions of dollars of infrastructure.
For example, Chinese firms are carrying out a $653 million expansion of Kenya’s main airport in the capital, Nairobi.
In Malawi, which dumped Taiwan as a trade partner five years ago in exchange for a partnership with the mainland, China rewarded it with a five-star Golden Peacock hotel, presidential villas, school and university buildings, a 60-mile road and 600 boreholes for water, with a national stadium and agricultural technology center on the horizon.
In Ghana, China donated a sports complex in 2011, and gave the country a soft loan of $100 million for new stadiums, which allowed the nation to host the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.
In Zambia, China has built hospitals, supplied the nation with doctors and nurses. China has created railways there and boasts the creation of 50,000 jobs in Zambia with bilateral trade reaching $3.5 billion in 2011.
In the northern African country Algeria, China built a 1400-seat opera house as a gift to show the friendship between the two nations.
In Ethiopia, China has invested billions to bolster its shoe industry to make Ethiopia the shoe hub of the world.
“We are not coming all the way here just to reduce our costs by 10 to 20%,” said Helen Hai, vice-president of Chinese footwear manufacturer the Huajian Group, which has a factory that employs 600 people near Addis Ababa. “Our aim is in 10 years’ time to have a new cluster of shoe making here. We want to build a whole supply chain … I want everything to be produced here.”
Burkina Faso is the fifth country to cut ties with Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen, who wants Taiwan to maintain its independence, came to office in 2016. The Dominican Republic, Gambia, Sao Tome and Principe and Panama are the other nations who have broken ties. The Vatican is reportedly next, as the Holy See and China edge closer to an accord on the appointment of bishops there.
This is the second time Burkina Faso has cut ties with Taiwan. It last did so in 1973, before resuming relations with Taipei in 1994.