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July 22, 2017

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China Resumes Ties With Sao Tome in Triumph Over Taiwan

BEIJING -- China and Sao Tome and Principe officially resumed diplomatic relations on Monday, in a triumph for Beijing over rival Taiwan after the African island nation abruptly broke away from the self-ruled island last week.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his counterpart from Sao Tome, Urbino Botelho, signed books at a ceremony in front of their flags in Beijing on Monday.

Wang said the re-establishment of relations would bring benefits to both countries and that they would hold exchanges in tourism, the media, and other areas.

The move is a victory for China, which considers the self-governing island of Taiwan a part of its territory. Beijing and Taipei have competed for allies for much of the nearly seven decades since the end of China's civil war in 1949, when the defeated Nationalist government fled across the Taiwan Strait.Most of the world does not formally recognize Taiwan as a condition of maintaining relations with China.

Sao Tome and Taiwan broke ties last week, leaving 21 countries and governments that have official ties with Taiwan.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister David Lee last week accused Sao Tome of demanding "an astronomical amount of financial help," though he did not say how much.

Sao Tome and Principe is an island nation off the coast of central Africa, with a population of almost 200,000. The impoverished former Portuguese colony relies heavily on foreign aid.

Beijing suspended its relationship with Sao Tome in 1997 after the island nation established diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

As its economic, military and political clout has grown, China has become more successful in pulling away governments in a bid to diplomatically isolate Taiwan, though some countries, including the United States, maintain strong unofficial ties with Taipei.

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