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Last Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008, 12:29 GMT
Malawi severs links with Taiwan
Malawi has announced that it is cutting diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The move came as Chinese state media announced the African country had established ties with rival Beijing.

Before the announcement, Malawi was one of the few countries to maintain ties with Taiwan, which China regards as part of its territory.

Malawi cancelled a meeting with Taiwanese officials this month, raising speculation that such a diplomatic move might take place.

A joint statement from the two countries said that Malawi "recognises that there is but one China in the world" and that "Taiwan in an inalienable part of China's territory".

The Taiwanese government has condemned the move and accused China of using money to lure away their ally.

Burkina Faso
Sao Tome and Principe

Taiwan's Vice Foreign Minister Yang Tzu-pao told reporters it was part of Beijing's "efforts to squeeze Taiwan's international space".

Beijing is reported to have offered several billion dollars in aid to Malawi as an incentive for securing ties.

Most of the 23 states with which Taiwan retains diplomatic ties are small, poor countries in South America, Africa and the South Pacific.

'Grave challenges'

Malawi had only recently denied it had switched its allegiances from Taipei to Beijing.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister James Huang (file photo)
James Huang admits Taiwan faces diplomatic difficulties

But Foreign Minister Joyce Banda announced at a press conference in Blantyre that the decision had come into force on 28 December.

"We have decided to switch from Taiwan to mainland China after careful consideration on the benefits that we will be getting from mainland China," she said.

The joint statement from Beijing and Blantyre said the decision was made "in conformity with the desires of the two peoples".

Ruled by separate governments since end of Chinese civil war in 1949
China considers the island part of its territory
China has offered a "one country, two systems" solution, like Hong Kong
Most people in Taiwan support status quo

"The two countries have agreed to develop friendly relationships and cooperation and the People's Republic of China will support Malawi in its efforts to safeguard its sovereignty and develop its economy," said the statement.

Earlier this month, Taiwan Foreign Minister James Huang warned that the country was facing "grave challenges" in its diplomatic relations.

He was speaking after his planned visit to Malawi was cancelled while he was travelling there, when President Bingu wa Mutharika said he was no longer able to meet him.

Malawi's announcement follows a landslide victory in Taiwan's legislative elections at the weekend for the opposition Kuomintang Party, which supports developing closer ties with China.

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