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Taiwan president to visit African ally amid China pressure

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TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will visit one of the island’s oldest and most reliable diplomatic allies next month, amid growing pressure from China to whittle away the number of countries with which Taiwan has formal ties.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan to be a wayward province, ineligible for state-to-state relations, and has slowly managed to cut the dwindling number of countries which maintain ties with Taipei.

Last year, China established relations with Panama, which had for decades been a steadfast Taiwan ally, in a major diplomatic coup for Beijing.

Only 20 countries still recognize Taiwan, most of them poor nations in Central America, the Caribbean, Pacific and Africa.

Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Ms Tsai would visit the southern African nation of Swaziland from April 17 to April 21, with this year marking half a century of diplomatic ties.

The only other African ally Taiwan has left is Burkina Faso.

This will be Ms Tsai’s first trip to Africa since assuming the presidency in 2016.

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