Burkina Faso breaks ties with Taiwan in fresh blow to island

Burkina Faso has broken diplomatic ties with Taiwan in the latest blow to the self-ruled island that Beijing has been trying to isolate on the global stage, Taiwanese media reported on Thursday.

The West African nation’s move means Taiwan is recognised as a sovereign nation by only 18 mainly small, developing countries, the official Central News Agency said. Earlier this month, the Dominican Republic established diplomatic relations with China and severed ties with Taiwan.

The Taiwanese news agency said the island’s foreign minister would hold a briefing on Thursday. It has previously condemned what it called China’s “dollar diplomacy” campaign of luring away Taiwan’s allies with promises of vast financial aid and investment.

Beijing, which claims the island as its own territory, has been steadily dialing up the pressure on Taiwan’s independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen. China has blocked Taiwan’s participation in international meetings such as the World Health Assembly and has pressured multinational companies ranging from fashion brands to airlines to describe Taiwan as part of China.

The ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, has sent fighter planes near Taiwan’s coast a dozen times since Tsai’s election and an aircraft carrier sailing through the 170-kilometer-wide strait that separates them.

Tsai’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party says it wants stable relations with China, but hasn’t followed Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, in endorsing the “one China” principle.

Some analysts say Chinese President Xi Jinping, one of the most powerful Chinese leaders in decades, seems determined to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control during his time in office, something that would place him in the history books alongside Mao Zedong.

Xi has warned a Taiwanese envoy that the issue of unification cannot be put off indefinitely.