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ACID TEST FOR OUR FOREIGN POLICY

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Sir,

Recent developments with regard to the push by Mainland China to isolate Taiwan have gained momentum and in the process creating a foreign policy quagmire generally for African countries and specifically for the Kingdom of Eswatini.

African countries have had to dump Taiwan in their numbers and the latest is that we are now the only African country that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan.


Mainland China is very clear on the preconditions that one must meet before dreaming of having ties with them, the message is that cut ties with Taiwan and this position is influenced by the one China policy. Our kingdom finds itself in an unenviable position; continue aligning ourselves with Taiwan in the face of the rest of the continent aligning itself with Mainland China or divorce Taiwan in favour of Mainland China. I see our position as being unenviable for the following reasons:


l We have a long history with Taiwan and it is naturally not easy to terminate a long standing relationship like ours in favour of the unknown. And we have over the years pleaded with the UN to readmit Taiwan back to the international stage in vain.
l In the countries that have ties with Mainland China, the latter has undertaken massive infrastructure developments such as railway lines, roads, power stations,  dams, bridges etc.


l In the international stage, Mainland China has been successful in isolating Taiwan as evidenced by the unprecedant shift by African countries from Taiwan to Mainland China.


l Taiwan wants recognition at the UN, Mainland China is very clear, there is only one China and it is governed from Beijing.
In 1971, the United Nations opted to recognize Mainland China with Taiwan losing its membership to the UN because in the mind of the UN, ‘there can only be one China’ and that China is run from Beijing. Mainland China is adamant that there is no country called Taiwan; they view it as part of the bigger China.


It is, therefore, quite interesting that even power houses such as the United States of America and European Union do not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, they opted to have full diplomatic relations with Mainland China while at the same time maintaining strong trade relations with Taiwan.

The biggest wish that the Taiwanese have is to be readmitted into the UN, a mission that appears to be getting more difficult by the day as Mainland China exerts its influence; buoyed by the massive economic boost that they have had over the past few decades. As we deal with the difficulty in making a wise decision not only for ourselves, but for future generations, the words of wisdom that ‘there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics’ ring true.

It is time that we put emotions aside and approach this issue in a pragmatic way driven primarily by our own interests as a nation. Our country yearns for infrastructure investments such as roads, dams and massive investments in power generation, this is the reality that we are facing and as we make our choice we should be cognizant of these challenges. May God Almighty give us a signal on which will be a better choice for our country!

Hanger
MHLUME

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