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September 21, 2017

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Taiwan to monitor ally's China tour: MOFA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan has been closely monitoring an ongoing trip of an African ally leader in mainland China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

"The Republic of China Government has expressed its grave concerns over an ongoing visit to Shanghai by Sao Tome and Principe President Manuel Pinto da Costa," MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) told local media yesterday.

Kao, however, did not comment on foreign media reports that said Pinto da Costa is also scheduled to visit Beijing during his itinerary in China.

According to foreign media reports, President Pinto da Costa departed last Friday to China and Portugal as part of a private visit.

A source told Portuguese news agency Lusa that Pinto da Costa is scheduled to visit both Shanghai and Beijing during a weeklong private stay in China before flying to Portugal for another two weeks of private business.

The itinerary of the African leader's trip in China is different than the information the ally previously told Taiwan's embassy in Sao Tome and Principe.

According to MOFA, the Sao Tomean leader told Taiwan that he would be visiting Shanghai only and the trip was meant to attract Chinese investment in a construction project on a deep water port in Sao Tome and Principe.

The Sao Tomean 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.

Sao Tomean reports said this will be the first trip for its leader to visit mainland China after being elected president in 2011.

First China Visit Since 1997

Pinto da Costa is the first president of Sao Tome and Principe to set foot in mainland China since 1997, when Beijing cut off diplomatic relations with Sao Tome and Principe because the African country recognized Taipei instead of Beijing, according to Sao Tomean media reports.

In response to the visit, MOFA issued a statement last Friday, expressing the nation's grave concerns over the ally leader's China tour.

Though the ministry had been informed of the trip beforehand, MOFA said Taiwan's government asked Sao Tome and Principe to cherish the long-term friendship between the two countries and not engage in similar activities that will affect two-way relations again in the future, it noted.

The San Tomean president promised that he will be leading a delegation on a state visit to Taiwan before the end of this year or early in 2015 in a concrete move to solidify ties, the MOFA added.

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