World Bulletin / News Desk
China has welcomed a decision by the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe to cut off diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which expressed deep regret over the move.
Following the break, Taiwan -- which China considers a breakaway province -- only has official diplomatic relations with 21 countries.
China’s foreign ministry welcomed Sao Tome and Principe on Wednesday to "return to the right track of the one-China principle", the state-run China Daily reported.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s foreign minister criticized the decision as "reckless and unfriendly”, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.
“We deeply regret Sao Tome and Principe’s decision to terminate diplomatic ties with our country on Dec. 21. To uphold our nation's dignity, we have decided to end diplomat ties with Sao Tome and Principe effective immediately, withdraw our embassy and technical personnel and end all bilateral cooperation,” David Lee told reporters.
Underlining that ties between allies should be based on integrity and mutual benefit, he said that Sao Tome and Principe was seeking to curry favor with China as Taiwan was unable to meet the demands of the African nation, which he described as facing financial difficulties.
China broke off diplomat ties with Sao Tome and Principe in 1997 after it declared the establishment of diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Since Chinese nationalist leaders fled to Taiwan in 1949 after a brutal civil war with Mao Zedong's Communists, China has seen the region as a breakaway province that will eventually return.
In June, Beijing suspended a communication mechanism with Taipei after the Democratic Progressive Party, a traditionally pro-independence party, took power in the island territory.