President Tsai invites lawmakers to join her on Central American tour

President Tsai Ing-wen (???) on Wednesday invited lawmakers across party lines to join her on a trip next month to four of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America, saying that "the greater the pressure, the greater the need for unity and to venture out."

In a post on her personal Facebook page, Tsai said Taiwan has been facing many challenges on the diplomatic front, the most recent being the severing of formal relations with Sao Tome and Principe earlier in the day.

Under such circumstances, there is a dire need for unity among the different political parties in Taiwan, the president said.

"Mainland China's suppression of Taiwan's diplomacy and international participation efforts has never ceased," the president said.

Beijing's suppression of Taiwan has continued, regardless of which party is in power, Tsai said, citing the break in diplomatic ties between Taiwan and The Gambia in November 2013, China's attempt to denigrate the status of former President Ma Ying-jeou (???), and the recent severing of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Sao Tome and Principe.

Such moves by China are absolutely not helpful to the development of cross-Taiwan Strait ties, she said.

Tsai said her administration's response will be to continue its "steadfast diplomacy" in an effort to promote mutually beneficial relations with other countries on all fronts.

She invited lawmakers across party lines to join her on her overseas trip next month and get a firsthand look at the hardships faced by Taiwanese diplomats abroad and their efforts to promote Taiwan's foreign relations.

"The greater the pressure, the greater the need for unity and to venture out," the president said.

Tsai is scheduled to visit Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras from Jan. 7-15 on her second overseas trip since taking office on May 20.

Taiwan's foreign ministry announced earlier Wednesday that it had ended formal ties with Sao Tome and Principe, after the African country decided to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan, mainly due to Taipei's refusal to meet the African country's demand for financial aid.

According to a Taiwanese foreign affairs official who asked not to be named, Sao Tome and Principe had asked for US$210 million in financial aid.

With the loss of Sao Tome and Principe, Taiwan now has two African diplomatic allies -- Swaziland and Burkina Faso -- among its remaining total of 21, most of which are Central American nations and Pacific island countries.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel