Taiwan Breaks Relations With Chad

The Associated Press
Saturday, August 5, 2006; 2:40 PM

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Taiwanese government said early Sunday that it was breaking off diplomatic relations with Chad just hours before a planned trip by Taiwan's premier to the central African country.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Michel Lu said Chad was under pressure from China to end its relations with Taiwan, so the island's leaders made the break before Chad could move on its own.

He charged that China had been using its status as a member of the U.N. Security Council and its ability to influence events in the neighboring African nation of Sudan to persuade Chad to cut ties.

He did not offer details. Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang was scheduled to leave for Chad on Sunday but the trip was canceled, Lu said.

In Chad, government spokesman Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor said he had no immediate comment.

Taiwan split from China during civil war in 1949 but China considers the island a part of its territory.

In recent decades Taiwan has been fighting an effort by Beijing to reduce the breakaway republic's number of diplomatic allies.

China now is focusing its pressure on Africa, using its economic power to offer lucrative aid, trade and investment deals in exchange for oil, raw materials and diplomatic support. Chad began pumping oil in 2003 and exported about 133 million barrels in its first two years.

Only 24 nations now have full diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Most are small and impoverished countries in Africa, the Pacific and Latin America.

Taiwan has been one of Chad's major foreign allies, helping to develop its infrastructure and offering to assist in expanding its oil industry. Taiwanese Foreign Minister James Huang met with Chad's leaders in N'Djamena last month to try to cement relations.

© 2006 The Associated Press