By Raphael Oni
H.E Geoffrey Onyeama Nigeria Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E Wang Yi, China Minister of Foreign Affairs signing the Agreement on One China early this year.
The presence of the Taiwanese Mission in Abuja is still a surprise to many well-meaning Nigerians despite the One China Policy Agreement signed by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China earlier this year. You will recall that during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in January 2017 to Nigeria a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the One China Policy.
The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes that there is only one China in the world that the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria reiterates not to have any official relations or engage in any official contacts with Taiwan, and supports all efforts made by the Chinese Government to realize national reunification.
The One-China policy refers to the policy or view that there is only one state called “China”, despite the existence of two governments that claim to be “China”. As a policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must break official relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and vice versa.
The Federal Government of Nigeria took the right step in the right direction by correcting the diplomatic blunder that exist for long time earlier this year pledging support for One China.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Geoffrey Onyeama, told news men that Taiwan must relocate her mission to Lagos without any delay, however two months after such statement was made the Taiwanese government have vehemently refused to relocate as directed. In the Minister’s word earlier this year, “Taiwan will stop enjoying any privileges because it is not a country that is recognised under international law and under the position we have taken internationally we recognise the People’s of China.” Furthermore the Minister says, “Taiwan will not have any diplomatic representation in Nigeria and also they will be moving to Lagos to the extent that they function as a trade mission with a skeletal staff. Chinese Government does not oppose trading with Taiwan as such as long there is no formal contact with the Government that will suggest recognition of Taiwan as sovereign country,”.
When our correspondent visited the Taiwanese Embassy located at Kastinala Street in Maitama earlier this week, we found out there the Mission still operate fully as “a recognized accredited mission”, the only changes notice was that the signpost outside the company have been removed. There were two vehicles parked in the compound having diplomatic plate numbers on them. To clarify the Nigerian government stand on the continues existence of the Taiwanese Mission in Abuja, journalists confronted the Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Geoffrey Onyeama, if he is aware of the development.
The Minister refuted claims that Taiwan is still operating as an embassy in Abuja, months after the Federal Government decided to withdraw its diplomatic status and directed that Taiwan relocates to Lagos, where it would henceforth operate as Trade Mission.
Onyeama disclosed that request by Taiwan for the Federal Government to rescind her decision was turned down, as well as another for time to wind up its operation in Abuja, before relocation to Lagos as a Trade Mission.
He was speaking in responds to questions from journalists that Taiwan is still carrying out diplomatic operations in Abuja despite the withdrawal of such status by the government and that the only thing Taiwan has done was the removal of its name from the building from which it operates from.
The minister however, promised to investigate the report and take decisive action against the Taiwanese if they were found to have disregarded the government’s directive by remaining in Abuja and carrying out full diplomatic activities. According to the Minister, “It is not true that they are still operating in Abuja, even when they came to us and asked for more time to enable them wind up there operations in Abuja, we refused to grant that extension. Furthermore the Minister said, “Nevertheless, we will investigate the issue and if we found out that they are still operating in Abuja, then we will have to take necessary actions to evict them out of Abuja”,
Nigeria severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1971! The Nigerian government then established diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China in February 1971 and General Gowon visited Beijing in 1974. Nigeria has not reestablished diplomatic relations with Taiwan since then.
Taiwan established a trade and cultural office in Lagos in 1991. It was moved to Abuja in 2001. That office has been passing itself off as an embassy since c2013, despite the fact that there is no diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Taiwan. The Chinese government protested the activities of the Taiwan Trade Office to the Nigerian Government in 2016, but the Nigerian Government replied that the trade office is not an embassy. The Nigerian Government has now ordered the Taiwanese to move their trade office to Lagos to make the distinction clear.