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September 23, 2017

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Sao Tome Breaks Ties with Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Republic of China on Wednesday announced an end to diplomatic relations with Sao Tome and Principe, hours after the African country made the same announcement.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維) said Taipei cut ties after the former ally requested an "astronomical amount" in financial aid.

The government of Sao Tome and Principe on Tuesday announced its split with the R.O.C., with which it had shared diplomatic relations since 1997.

In a statement released shortly afterward, China's Foreign Ministry said it welcomed Sao Tome back to the correct path of the "one China" principle.

The ministry did not state explicitly whether Beijing had established formal ties with Sao Tome and Principe.

In an emergency press conference Wednesday morning, Taiwan's foreign minister condemned the African country's "abrupt and unfriendly decision" after a 20-year relationship.

"In order to uphold our national dignity, we have decided to terminate our relations with Sao Tome and to close its embassy, recall technical personnel and end all bilateral cooperation projects," he said.

Lee said the main reason Sao Tome split with Taiwan was the latter's refusal to provide an "astronomical amount" in financial assistance.

"We have always done our best to aid the development of our allies to the extent that we are able to, but we cannot meet Sao Tome's latest request," he said.

Lee did not disclose the amount of aid requested, but a source close to the matter said Sao Tome had asked for US$210 million.

Sao Tome is the first country to sever ties with Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen assumed office in May, leaving Taiwan with just 21 allies.

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