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February, 24, 2017

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China's pressure only raises Taiwanese hackles: Presidential Office

GUATEMALA -- China's pressuring of Taiwan will only raise hackles and is not conducive to cross-Taiwan Strait relations, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Thursday.

Huang, who is accompanying President Tsai Ing-wen ( 蔡英文) on her ongoing visit to Central America, said China's return to its old track, whether it is the use of pressure or intimidation, will only antagonize the Taiwanese people and will not be favorable to the normal development of cross-strait relations.

Huang was responding to Chinese media, which cited China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅), who is currently visiting Africa, as saying a day earlier that Nigeria had told Taiwan to move its trade office from its capital, Abuja, to the West African country's largest city of Lagos, and to curtail its privileges and staff.

Nigerian officials and organizations are also banned from having official exchanges with Taiwan.

"The existence of the Republic of China is itself an indisputable fact. Applying pressure and intimidation will not change that fact," Huang said.

The Nigerian move coincides with Tsai's Central America visit and comes less than one month after another West African country, Sao Tome and Principe, severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan and established formal ties with China.

Cross-strait relations have been chilly since Tsai of the Democratic Progressive Party, which has traditionally supported independence from China, assumed office in May 2016.

China has ratcheted up its pressure on Taiwan recently after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump had a phone conversation with Tsai in early December, breaking the convention of no U.S. contact with Taiwan at that level in four decades.

In a move seen as making a political statement, China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailed through the Taiwan Strait Wednesday after conducting exercises in the South China Sea.

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