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Taiwan concerned over African ally leader's upcoming 'private' visit to China

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday expressed the nation's grave concerns over a scheduled visit to China by the leader of Taiwan's African diplomatic ally Sao Tome and Principe.

In a released statement, MOFA said the R.O.C. government had expressed its grave concerns over an upcoming visit to Shanghai by Sao Tome and Principe President Manuel Pinto da Costa.

Though the Santomean leader stressed that the visit will not be made in his capacity as president and the tour will be a private one, MOFA said the ministry must still express its concerns.

MOFA said that under the principle of flexible diplomacy, Taiwan has always held the position that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should co-exist peacefully on the international stage.

However, a visit by a president of one of Taiwan's allies to China is too politically sensitive.

Taiwan's government asked Sao Tome and Principe to cherish the long-term friendship between the two countries and not engage in activities that will affect two-way relations again in the future, it noted.

To make its stance clear, Taiwan's Embassy in Sao Tome and Principe expressed the nation's concern to the African ally after it learned of the upcoming trip. MOFA officials also met several times with the Santomean ambassador to Taiwan, Antonio Quintas do Espirito Santo, to inform him of their position.

According to MOFA, President Pinto da Costa told Taiwan's embassy that the trip is meant to attract Chinese investment in a construction project on a deep water port in Sao Tome and Principe.

The president stressed that he will not engage in any official activities during his tour in China and noted that the visit will not harm bilateral ties between the R.O.C. and his country, according to MOFA.

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