Malawi ends ties with Taiwan in favor of China
By Mabvuto Banda
LILONGWE (Reuters) - Malawi has cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan after 41 years and established links with China, Malawi's foreign minister said on Monday.
Malawi and Taiwan media earlier this month said the African nation's government cancelled a meeting with Taiwanese officials, raising speculation Lilongwe might end diplomatic relations with the island nation in favor of China.
Malawi Foreign Affairs Minister Joyce Banda told a press conference on Monday the two countries had formalized diplomatic ties effective Dec 27, 2007.
"We have decided to switch from Taiwan to mainland China after careful consideration on the benefits that we will be getting from mainland China," she said.
Taiwan's hopes of maintaining relations with the southern Africa nation were dealt a blow when the government in Taipei said it could not match a Chinese offer to provide some $6 billion in aid to Malawi, one of Africa's poorest countries.
Banda said she did not know how much money China would ultimately donate to Malawi.
She said projects funded by Taiwan, including a highway that extends to the border with Zambia, were discussed with China and would not be affected by the change in diplomatic relations.
Taiwan is recognized by just 24, mostly small, impoverished countries, compared with 170 that recognize China in step with Beijing's "One China" diplomatic stance.
(Editing by Phumza Macanda, Paul Simao and Mary Gabriel)