Taiwan’s diplomatic downgrade was about more than just economics.
The News Lens
By: Abdul-Gafar Tobi Oshodi
Little is known of the details of Nigeria-Taiwan relations, but last year will go down as
the most turbulent in their complex history.
On Jan. 11, 2017, the Nigerian government ordered a relocation of the Taiwan trade office from Abuja, the country’s capital, to Lagos, its commercial hub, generating significant attention. An additional demand on March 31 that office director Morgan Chao must leave the country because his safety could not be guaranteed infuriated Taipei. Chao was recalled after a one-week ultimatum to relocate the office on June 14 lapsed and military personnel were deployed to forcefully eject its staff and seal off the premises on June 30.
As the trade office was being finally relocated to Lagos in December 2017, an official circular was sent to all government ministries, departments and agencies stressing the need “to reaffirm Nigeria’s position on the One China Policy.” Raising further doubt as to the future existence of the newly-relocated Lagos trade office, the circular added that the 1990s Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) allowing trade missions between the two countries were being reviewed.
While Taiwan promised to reciprocate by ordering Nigeria’s trade office to leave the country’s capital, David Lee, Taiwan’s foreign affairs minister, echoed the official view: Abuja’s actions were part of Beijing’s “peremptory political scheme.” Many observers have also drawn the same connection.