Taiwan maintains ties with Eswatini, lashes out at Beijing

King Mswati III of Eswatini addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, at the United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Taiwan’s diplomatic relations with its only official ally in Africa remains unscathed despite Chinese pressure, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, 外交部) said Sunday, while calling Beijing’s action “savage.”

The comment came after a letter from the Chinese government to the Kingdom of Eswatini (史瓦帝尼) was released online, in which the Asia superpower threatened to “cripple” the African nation’s economy should it uphold its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry strongly condemns and abominates Chinese’s savage meddling in other countries’ economic affairs with political measures, MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu walks to his seat at a press conference on Feb. 2, 2020. (CNA)
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu walks to his seat at a press conference on Feb. 2, 2020. (CNA)

MOFA said that Taiwan’s ambassador to Eswatini had meaningful conversations with its Swazi counterparts and that the African ally remained determined to maintain the diplomatic tie.

The Taiwanese government expressed its “utmost respect” to Eswatini’s unbending will in the face of China’s battering, Ou said.

The Kingdom of Eswatini is an absolute monarchy in Southern Africa bordering South Africa and Mozambique, with a population of 1.2 million.

A 2019 report by the World Bank showed that poverty levels in Eswatini have stagnated at high levels in the last five years, with 39.7 percent of the population estimated to have been living under the international US$1.90 poverty line in 2016 and 2017.

As a country that prides itself as the bastion of democratic values in Taiwan, many have questioned the hypocrisy of it maintaining close ties with the African autocracy.

In response, Ou told The China Post that “Eswatini is a diplomatic ally that has strenuously supported Taiwan and has spared no effort to help our country,” and that “Taiwan respects other countries’ political systems when making friends around the world.”