Taipei, Thamie Dlamini, eSwatini ambassador to Taiwan, said the visit next week by King Mswati III of the African kingdom also known as Swaziland, shows his country's commitment to Taiwan.
Dlamini's remarks deflated speculation that eSwatini, which has had formal ties with Taiwan for 50 years, will cut official relations with Taipei and recognize China instead, after Burkina Faso severed ties with Taiwan on May 24.
"We will stick with Taiwan. Our diplomatic ties are at a very strong level. We are very happy with that," Dlamini said in a Friday interview with CNA. "Next week, we are all excited by the visit by His Majesty, who is going to cement the very good relations between the two countries."
King Mswati III is scheduled to visit Taiwan from June 6-12. The ambassador said the state visit has been planned for some time and is not arranged in a hasty manner.
Dlamini said Taiwan is a second home for the king and the visit will be able to deliver a strong signal that both sides enjoy sound and solid ties.
The move by Burkina Faso to switch recognition to Beijing has made eSwatini the only ally of Taiwan in Africa. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (??) publicly called for eSwatini to switch recognition to Beijing, after Burkina Faso did so.
The loss of Burkina Faso leaves Taiwan with only 18 diplomatic allies. It is the fourth ally to switch to recognizing China since Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (???) took office in May 2016. The other three were Sao Tome and Principe, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.
"We want to once again extend to our deepest gratitude to Taiwan and to the people of Taiwan who have always worked hard in terms of supporting economic and social development initiatives in eSwatini," Dalmini said.
"We are very much happy with the current status of our diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan)," he said.
Dalmini said eSwatini respects China as a country and respects the way Beijing implements its foreign policy, but eSwatini is a sovereign state so his country is able to conduct its own foreign policy.
Speaking on the upcoming state visit by the king, Dalmini said the king and President Tsai will sign a bilateral economic cooperation agreement, which is expected to grant eSwatini's products preferential tariffs when they are sold to Taiwan.
"We are not always coming to Taiwan to beg, but we are coming to seek how best we can cooperate and support each other. Also, in our attempt, we are always ready to support Taiwan in playing an active role," the ambassador said.
During the visit, the king will attend his son's college graduation on June 9. After graduating, the young man is expected to stay in Taiwan to pursue higher education in a graduate school, Dlamini said.
Dlamini said he has faith that ties between Taiwan and eSwatini will continue to grow and it is possible that more royal members will come to Taiwan to study.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel