01/11/2008, 00.00
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Taipei accuses Beijing of using dirty tricks to woo away its diplomatic partners

Back from Malawi the island’s foreign ministry points the finger at mainland China for trying to use the upcoming election to woo away the last countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan. President Chen calls on the Holy See for help.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Taiwan says it is bracing for "dirty tricks" from the mainland to try to woo away the island's few remaining diplomatic partners, including the Vatican, possibly after tomorrow's legislative elections.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister James Huang Chih-fang admitted yesterday that such a development was inevitable, but that his ministry was ready to fight back and would take on whatever diplomatic challenge the mainland delivered.

“Various signs have indicated that China will use dirty tricks to hurt our morale right after, if not before, our elections," said Mr Huang, who has just returned from an attempted mission to Malawi, which is reported to be considering a switch of recognition from Taipei to Beijing. He did not however name the countries that might succumb to the mainland’s wooing.

No such restraint in Taiwan’s press which has already reported that Beijing has offered Malawi US$ 6 billion in “aid” in exchange for diplomatic recognition.

Anonymous sources in Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry have confirmed that similar steps are being taken vis-à-vis the 23 other states that still recognise Taiwan.

The island gave up long time ago the claim of being the “legitimate government of China,” but is currently trying to be recognised as a separate country, Taiwan.

Beijing has adamantly opposed the move, claiming that the small island nation is in fact a rebel province, and has threatened to retaliate against any country that would defy its policy.

In light of the situation, Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has written to the Holy See, arguing that the UN's failure to include Taiwan as a member-state is a “violation of international moral standards as espoused by the Pope.”

At present the Vatican recognises Taiwan and has a chargé d’affaires posted on the island. However, the Holy See has expressed an interest in returning the apostolic nunciature to its original location, Beijing.

Mainland China expelled then Nuncio Mgr Antonio Ribeiri in 1951 who, after repeated requests to be allowed back, was forces to move to Taipei in 1952.

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