TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday began a four-day trip to Eswatini, one of the island’s 13 remaining allies.
Tsai, who is serving her last year as president, is visiting the country of 1.1 million people in southern Africa to “celebrate the friendship between the two countries,” she said, as she departed Taiwan.
Since Tsai took office in 2016, China has started putting pressure on countries that have a diplomatic relationship with Taiwan to switch their formal recognition from Taiwan to China. Beijing has successfully poached 9 countries, leaving Taiwan with just 13 countries that acknowledge its statehood.
Taiwan’s most recent diplomatic loss was Honduras, which switched recognition to Beijing in March.
Taiwan is a self-ruled island claimed by China. The two sides have been at odds since 1949 when the Communist Party won in the civil war against the Nationalists. The Nationalists fled to Taiwan and set up government on the island.
China today demands its allies agree to its One China principle, which claims that Taiwan is a part of the People’s Republic of China.
Tsai belongs to a political party that states Taiwan is already independent.
“Diplomacy is the accumulation of step by step. Taiwan’s steps onto the globe not only will not stop,” she said. “We will continue forward more resolutely, with self confidence, to let the world see Taiwan’s steady and good power.”
Tsai is also accompanied by the mayor of the port city of Kaohsiung in Taiwan’s south.
Eswatini is an absolute monarchy, and most of the country’s population live below the poverty line. It was rocked by pro-democracy protests in 2021, but those protests were put down violently, per reports. / AP