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After China pledged US$40 billion in investments and projects in Nigeria, Taiwan has been ordered to move its representative office from the capital Abuja to Lagos, the commercial hub.
The Nigerian Foreign Minister said that Taiwan would have no diplomatic representation whatsoever in Nigeria and that "a trade mission with a skeletal staff" would operate in Lagos, state news agency NAN reported, as cited by Business Insider.
In desperate need of investment due to falling oil prices and lagging production, Nigeria is in no position to reject China’s demands to support Beijing’s One China policy and break off all official relations with Taiwan.
“The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes that there is only one China in the world,” Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said following a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart.
Nigeria’s economic ties with China are much more important its ties with Taiwan, making the move to kick Taiwan to the curb a strategic one. Taiwan-Nigeria trade was just $800 million through all of 2016—a mere fraction of the $6.46 billion in trade with China for first six months of the same year.
Nigeria said Taiwan would no longer enjoy the privileges that are granted to other sovereign countries.
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Nigeria has been asking for China’s financial support in the wake of the oil price crash and Niger Delta militancy that has further crippled the oil industry, bringing Nigeria close to a full-year recession (the first since 1991).
China’s positioning in Nigeria is only the most recent action in the worsening China/Taiwan relations. Last month, China protested when U.S. President-elect Donald Trump accepted a congratulatory phone call from the president of Taiwan, and earlier this week, Taiwan deployed fighter jets, a surveillance aircraft and Navy frigates after China sent warships, preceded by its aircraft carrier, into the Taiwan Strait.
By Damir Kaletovic for Oilprice.com
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Damir Kaletovic is a veteran investigative journalist covering Europe and the Middle East, and a senior consultant for Divergente Research.