05/04/2017, 14.21
TAIWAN - CHINA

Beijing 'disgusting': attempt to expel Taiwan from 'blood diamonds' conference

The Chinese delegation "grabbed the microphone" and blocked proceedings. African representatives backed Beijing. But Taiwan has been a Kimberley Process observer since 2007. China suspected of trading in 'blood diamonds' with Zimbabwe.

Perth (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At a Kimberley Process conference on diamond trafficking from conflict areas held yesterday in Australia, the Chinese delegation interrupted the opening ceremony and blocked proceedings by demanding the expulsion of the Taiwan delegation.

The attitude of the Chinese delegation was defined by Australian newspapers as "disgusting". According to local newspapers, the China group " grabbed the microphone " during the Aboriginal welcome ceremony, chaired by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and demanded to know why the Taiwanese group had been invited. They interrupted proceedings until satisfactory answers were given.

Subsequently, a discussion of the case was abandoned because several representatives of African countries continued to interrupt the interventions, supporting China's position. Eventually, in order to continue the meeting, the Kimberley Process chair was forced to ask the Taiwan delegation to leave.

The Kimberley Process is an organization that since 2000 monitors that diamond trading is not used to finance guerrillas and civil wars, especially in African countries.

The conflict between the two delegations does not seem to originate from allegations of participation in trade with blood diamonds. It is instead part of China's traditional position in trying to marginalize Taiwanese presence from international meetings.

Geng Shuang, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, defended the attitude of his delegation, claiming that Taiwan could not be invited because it was neither a member nor a KP observer. Taiwan has had observer status since 2007.

Some attending the conference were also astonished by the attitude of the African friends of China. For years, with a policy of gifts and economic facilitations, Beijing has sought to disrupt ties between African countries and Taiwan to remove diplomatic relations from the "rebel" island.

China is the largest national investor in Africa. In 2016 it invested in 293 projects worth $ 66.4 billion: triple US investments. Many NGOs criticize China because its investments are made without any concern for the local population and respect for human rights in African countries.

In recent years, China has been suspected of trading ' blood diamonds' with Zimbabwe.

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