Done deal:  Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, back, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Picture: REUTERS
Done deal: Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, back, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Picture: REUTERS

Nigeria has ordered Taiwan to move its trade mission from the capital, Abuja, to the commercial hub, Lagos, following a visit by the Chinese foreign minister during which his government pledged to invest $40bn.

Nigerian Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama announced the move on Wednesday after his meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said.

China had said it would invest $40bn in Nigerian infrastructure projects, a presidential spokesman said on Thursday, without giving details.

Onyeama said Taiwan would stop enjoying privileges because it was not a country recognised under international law, Xinhua said. In the talks, Onyeama reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the One China policy.

On Thursday the foreign ministry of Taiwan strongly condemned "the unreasonable, rude and outrageous act of political hype carried out by the Nigerian government in complying with mainland China’s political goals".

"Nigeria has made a correct political judgment," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said. The country had "promised not to have any official dealings with Taiwan", he said.

The move comes less than a month after the tiny West African nation of Sao Tome and Principe broke off ties with Taiwan and established formal relations with China.

Taiwan now has just 21 diplomatic partners. China has shown a willingness to use its economic and military might to put pressure on the country’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which swept the more Beijing-friendly Kuomintang from power in 2016.

The Communist Party considers the island a province and has criticised President Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to accept that both sides belong to "One China". China refrained from wooing away any of Taiwan’s diplomatic partners during the eight-year tenure of Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, who advocated increased ties with the world’s second-largest economy.

Dwindling friends

Tsai is wrapping up a week-long Central American tour in which she has been shoring up relations with her dwindling roster of diplomatic friends. The Nigerian move suggests she might also need to be concerned about business interests in countries that lack formal ties to Taipei.

Nigeria has been seeking Chinese support after a slump in oil prices pushed the country to the brink of its first full-year recession since 1991. President Muhammadu Buhari returned from a visit there in 2016 with promises for loans of $6bn.

"This administration is very serious about infrastructural development," Buhari said on Wednesday. "We will keep our side of the bargain in all the agreements we have signed."

Wang told Buhari on Wednesday that China "appreciates that the Nigerian side made good on its pledge to implement the One China principle, and carried out concrete and decisive measures to clear political obstacles to the development of bilateral relations".


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