China invites Sao Tome and Principe to Sino-African head of state summit

19 October 2006

Beijing, China, 19 Oct – China announced Wednesday it had invited Sao Tome and Principe to be an observer at the head of state summit of the Sino-African Cooperation Forum, despite the two countries not having diplomatic relations.

Bilateral contacts between China and Sao Tome and Principe are rare, as the African country has diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the island with its own government that has claimed independence from China since 1949 and is seen by Beijing as a separatist province, which should be unified with the rest of the country.

“In order to demonstrate our sincerity about cooperating with Africa, countries with which China does not have diplomatic relations have received an invitation to take part as observers,” said Xu Jinghu, director general of the department of African Affairs for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Xu was speaking at a press conference to present the Forum’s head of state and government summit, which will take place in Beijing from November 3 and 5.

As well as Sao tome and Principe, three other countries recognize Taiwan: Burkina Faso, Gambia, Malawi and Swaziland.

Xu noted that the summit would bring together ‘China and friendly countries in Africa, or, in other words, countries with which China has diplomatic relations,” but said that the other countries that did not recognize the People’s Republic were also invited to the Forum’s ministerial conferences in Beijing in 2000, and in Addis Ababa, in 2003.

In September, and at the Chinese government’s invitation, Sao Tome and Principe also took part as an observer in the ministerial conference of Forum Macau.

Last week, athletes from Sao Tome and Principe were present at the first Lusophone games held in Macau, which is autonomous in relation to Beijing for its internal administration, but not in diplomatic affairs. (macauhub)