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September 23, 2017

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Presidential Office regretful over losing ally but stands by decision

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Presidential Office expressed regret Wednesday over Sao Tome and Principe's decision to sever ties but said it resolutely stood by its refusal to engage in "checkbook diplomacy."

The Republic of China had the capacity to provide assistance to diplomatic allies and was willing to put great effort into doing so, the office said in a statement.

However, it added, the government would not use such aid as a tool for "diplomatic competition."

The Presidential Office also expressed deep regret over Beijing "taking advantage" of Sao Tome's financial crisis in order to push its "one China" policy.

China's actions had not only hurt Taiwanese citizens' feelings but were also "detrimental to the continual development of cross-strait relations," it continued.

Such challenges in foreign relations were something all administrations — regardless of party — were forced to deal with, it said.

"This is a truth that the nation must face up to," the statement added, urging unity across the political spectrum as the country confronted the difficulties posed by the current cross-strait situation.

Sao Tome's request for an "astronomical amount" financial aid was the main reason the African nation severed ties with Taiwan, Foreign Minister David Lee said earlier today.

Diplomatic ties with Sao Tome were formed in 1997. Today's split cuts Taiwan's number of official allies to 21.

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