Nigeria’s Presidency has dismissed what it called ‘incorrect media reports’ to the effect that Nigeria has cut ties with Taiwan.
“The correct position is that the official relationship between Nigeria and Taiwan has been at the level of trade representation and this has not changed from what it used to be.
“Taiwan trade office is the only Taiwanese representation in Nigeria and Nigeria’s trade office in Taipei is our only representation in Taiwan.
“Nigeria recognises and will sustain the “One China” policy and nothing has happened so far to change that level of relationship,” the statement by Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari said.
Nigeria’s reaction followed complaints from Taipei to a Nigerian request to the island to relocate its representative office in Abuja to Lagos, a request Taiwan sees as more pressure by China to isolate it.
Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province, ineligible for state-to-state relations, and to be taken back by force if necessary, especially if it makes moves toward independence.
Taiwan has no diplomatic ties with Nigeria, but has an office for handling business affairs in the Nigerian capital. The Chinese had mentioned in diplomatic circles that the office was running as a full fledged embassy, issuing visas among other things and actually being called an ‘Embassy of the Republic of China’. (Also Read: China Loan
On Wednesday, Nigerian officials asked Taipei to move its office from Abuja to its former capital, Lagos.
Taiwan called on Nigeria to consider the issue as both sides have an understanding based on reciprocity, under which Nigeria runs a trade office in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei.
“The foreign ministry urges Nigeria to leave room for discussion,” Taiwan’s ministry said in a statement, referring to the request to move the trade office.
“The foreign ministry seriously objects and condemns the unreasonable actions by the Nigerian government,” it said.
Nigerian officials met their Chinese counterparts in Abuja on Wednesday and pledged to stick to Beijing’s “one China” policy, that Taiwan is a part of China, media reported.
Taiwan has 21 formal allies, only two in Africa. Last month, former African ally Sao Tome switched its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.
In countries with which Taiwan has no formal diplomatic relations it often sets up trade and commerce offices, in capitals and major cities.
While economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan have grown considerably in recent years, their relations have worsened since Tsai Ing-wen, who heads a pro-independence party, was elected president of the island last year.
Beijing has been stepping up pressure on her to concede to its “one China” principle.