The BBC reports that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan “in our strategic national interest”:
“We are proud that we have been a very strong and reliable partner of the Republic of China [Taiwan] for the past 18 years, the results of which are there for every Taiwanese to see.
“Despite the end of diplomatic ties with Taiwan, we will still remain friends with the people of Taiwan.”
Taiwan said it was surprised by Gambia’s decision.
“Our government express shock and regret that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh sent a letter to our embassy in Gambia on 14 November to inform us [of] the immediate termination of ties,” Vice Foreign Minister Simon Ko said in Taipei. [Source]
The report added that the number of African states recognizing Taipei has steadily declined, with only Swaziland, São Tomé and Príncipe and Burkina Faso now remaining. But Al Jazeera reports that the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe may also be slipping, as they plan new trade projects with China after sixteen years of severed relations:
Officials in the tiny island nation of Sao Tome and Principe said on Tuesday that China plans to open a trade mission to promote projects there.
The decision comes 16 years after China broke off relations over the tiny Central African nation’s diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.
Sao Tome officials did not say whether the new cooperation deal with Beijing would affect diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin told legislators in Taipei it seemed unlikely Sao Tome would switch recognition to China but added Taiwan will “review its existing assistance programmes for Sao Tome to see if any adjustment is necessary”. [Source]