Gambia announced that all of it’s diplomatic ties with Taiwan have been ceased.
President Yahya Jammeh’s office said the move was for reasons of “national strategic interest”.
The West African state was one of a few African countries to recognise Taiwan, which China regards as part of its territory. Correspondents say it is unclear if the move is linked to the development of relations with China, which has a growing influence in Africa.
Despite the announcement, President Jammeh said Gambia hoped to “remain friends” with the Taiwanese people. “This decision has been taken in our strategic national interest,” a statement from his office read, without elaborating.
“We are proud that we have been a very strong and reliable partner of the Republic of China [Taiwan] for the past 18 years, the results of which are there for every Taiwanese to see. Despite the end of diplomatic ties with Taiwan, we will still remain friends with the people of Taiwan.”
Taiwan was separated from mainland China in 1949 at the end of the civil war between communists and nationalists. Beijing still refuses to recognise its independence.
Initially, most African states recognised the Taipei government but their number has steadily declined.
Gambia’s decision means that Swaziland, Sao Tome and Principe and Burkina Faso are the only African countries that remain allies with Taiwan. However, earlier this week officials in Sao Tome and Principe said China plans to open a trade mission to promote projects there.
It comes 16 years after Beijing broke off relations with the tiny Central African nation over its diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.
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