December 22, 2016 / 11:56 AM / 3 years ago

Sao Tome broke with Taiwan owing to importance of China as partner: PM

SAO TOME (Reuters) - Sao Tome and Principe Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada said on Thursday that breaking relations with Taiwan was the correct decision given China’s importance as a strategic partner and the need to improve the lives of Sao Tomeans.

(“It) was the most correct decision for Sao Tome and Principe,” he told journalists in Sao Tome, the capital. “We have our program and we have a commitment to the people to improve their living conditions.”

He said China was “a very important strategic relationship ... the second biggest economy in the world and permanent member of the (U.N.) Security Council”.

China on Thursday dismissed accusations from Taiwan that it had engaged in “dollar diplomacy” to get Sao Tome and Principe to ditch its ties with the self-ruled island, saying a petty Taiwan was besmirching its good name.

The tiny West African state’s decision this week has angered Taiwan, which says the move will not help its already strained relations with China.

Taiwan says China took advantage of Sao Tome’s financial woes to push its “one China” principle that states Taiwan is part of China and ineligible for diplomatic recognition. It said Taiwan would not exchange cash for diplomatic favors.

Trovoada denied reports that he had approached Taiwan for money.

Reporting by Ricardo Neto; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alison Williams and Hugh Lawson

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