China invites two Taiwan allies to China-West African summit
( dpa ) - China has invited two of Taiwan's African allies to the first China-West African summit, but Burkina Faso has refused to attend the meeting, a newspaper said on Saturday.
According to the Liberty Times, China has invited Burkina Faso and Gambia, which recognize Taiwan, to the March 25-28 China-West African summit in Beijing, the Liberty Times said.
But Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore has declined China's invitation, and has assured Taipei that his country's officials will not show up at the summit.
It is still unclear if Gambian President Yahya AJJ Jammeh or Gambian officials will attend the Beijing summit.
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry has said that it is closely monitoring the China-West African summit, but it would not tell its allies if they should or should not attend the Beijing summit.
The Beijing summit will be called the Economic Forum between China and the Community of West African States. China is expected to use the opportunity to highlight to Taiwan's allies the trade and economic payoffs of switching recognition to Beijing.
The first summit between China and the 15-member Economic Community of West African States is the spin-off of the China-Africa forum which was launched in 2000.
China sees Taiwan as its breakaway province and is wooing Taiwan's diplomatic allies to drop Taipei and recognize Beijing.
On January 14, China won over Malawi from Taiwan, cutting the number of Taiwan's allies to only 23.
The 23 allies of Taiwan are mostly small and poor nations in Latin America and the South Pacific. Four of them are in Africa - Burkina Faso, Gambia, Swaziland, and Sao Tome and Principe.
Taipei has invited the leaders of three South Pacific allies to visit Taiwan to discuss strengthening ties, the Liberty Times said.
President Derek Sikua of the Solomon Islands will visit Taiwan March 2-5, President Litokwa Tomeing of the Marshall Islands will visit Taiwan March 10-14, and President Marcus Stephen of Nauru will visit Taiwan in late March.