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September 22, 2017

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Envoy confirms ally leader's stop in Beijing

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A visiting senior official from Taiwan's African ally Sao Tome and Principe yesterday confirmed that President Manuel Pinto da Costa did visit both Shanghai and Beijing during his just-concluded China tour, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

During a 45-minute meeting with Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) yesterday, Amaro Pereira do Couto, the chief of staff of the Presidency of the Republic Democratic of Sao Tome and Principe, confirmed that President Pinto da Costa visited the two cities during a recent China tour from June 8 to June 11, said David Wang (王建業), head of MOFA's Department of West Asian and African Affairs.

Pereira do Couto arrived Taiwan late Sunday for a four-day visit, Wang noted.

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

Wang said the Sao Tomean leader told Taiwan that he would be visiting Shanghai.

However, the MOFA official stressed that though there were some minor differences in the itinerary of the African leader's recent China trip, the visiting envoy has reiterated that the trip was of a private nature and the president did not engage in political activities.

"The trip was meant to attract Chinese investment for a construction project on a deep-water port in Sao Tome and Principe," he noted.

The visiting envoy, however, did not disclose whom President Pinto da Costa met in Beijing and Shanghai, saying only that he met with Chinese businesspeople without further details, he added.

Bilateral Ties Stable

Wang reiterated the R.O.C.'s stance that Taiwan does not want to see similar a visit to be made by a Taiwan's ally leader in the future.

But he also said that the government understands that some of the country's diplomatic allies would want to explore business and trade opportunities with Beijing for economic reasons.

Wang noted that the ally had beforehand informed Taipei about the China trip. President Pinto da Costa also promised that he will be visiting Taiwan soon as a concrete move to solidify bilateral ties, he said.

MOFA, therefore, still feels optimistic about bilateral relations between Taiwan and Sao Tome and Principe, Wang said.

According to previous foreign media reports, President Pinto da Costa departed his country on June 6 to China and Portugal as part of a private visit.

He was 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, reports said.

Chinese authorities last Wednesday also confirmed the visit but did not disclose a more specific itinerary of the African leader.

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