Taiwan meets African allies, mainland expresses displeasure
Leaders from Taiwan and five African countries that have diplomatic relations with the island nation meet in Taiwan to discuss aid in health care and development. Beijing slams the meeting, making threats. Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian is attacked at home.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Following his tour of South America, Taiwanese President Chen Chui-bian met representatives of the five African states that recognise and have diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of mainland China. Ostensibly the reason for the meeting was to discuss aid requests in health care and development. Beijing slammed the event.

President Chen met the leaders of Gambia, Burkina Faso, Sao Tomé e Principe, Malawi and Swaziland. “Of course we're asking for aid,” said Thengo Maloya, Malawi's ambassador to Taiwan. “The needs are great.”

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu expressed the mainland’s displeasure, claiming that the Taiwan meeting was not motivated by altruism.

“The real purpose in hosting the ‘Taiwan-Africa Summit’ is not to support African development, nor for the benefit of the Taiwanese people, but for the private interests of individuals and political parties attempting to conduct ‘Taiwanese Independence’ splittist activities, further intensify its dollar diplomacy and undermine Sino-African friendship,” Ms Jiang said.

At the end of the meeting, the five African nations voiced support in a final summit declaration for Taiwan's application to join the United Nations.

Meanwhile in Taiwan thousands of anti-Chen activists have taken to the streets. The protesters lit 300,000 candles and arranged them in the form of a huge Chinese character representing a derogatory word to describe Mr Chen's actions.

Taipei has diplomatic relations with 24 countries in Africa, South America and the Caribbean. However, for many years Beijing has been trying to chip away at Taiwan’s international recognition.

For some analysts President Hu Jintao’s recent South America trip was part of this strategy.