Eswatini: Taiwan’s Last African Ally

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read

As Taiwan gears up for its presidential election on January 13th, 2024, its official diplomatic ties with Africa have dwindled, losing support from nearly all nations on the continent. Except for Somaliland, struggling to establish itself as a sovereign state, only the Kingdom of Eswatini continues to officially recognize Taiwan as a country.

This landlocked state, nestled within South Africa, has long been an unwavering ally of Taiwan. Recently, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen was warmly received in Mbabane to commemorate a triple anniversary: the fifty-five years of independence from the former British colony, the duration of diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and the fifty-five years of King Mswati III’s reign. This visit was orchestrated as a response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to South Africa two weeks before the BRICS summit.

“I love coming here, I cherish the friendship you offer us, and I hope that this friendship will continue to grow stronger, ensuring that the relationship between our two countries lasts forever,” declared the outgoing president at the royal palace of Lozitha last September. In contrast to nations such as Gambia, São Tomé Príncipe, or Burkina Faso, all of which severed ties with the island in 2016, this kingdom of 1.2 million people remains loyal, holding significant symbolic value for the Taiwanese government.

A Royal Choice

Among the thirteen nations worldwide still formally recognizing the Republic of China (ROC) and maintaining diplomatic ties with Taiwan, Eswatini stands out. The rest of the world diplomatically recognizes the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

For Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, the decision to align with Taipei is primarily influenced by the goodwill of King Mswati III, who governs the last absolute monarchy in Africa. Since ascending to the throne in 1986, the monarch has maintained a strong affinity for the Pacific island, having visited it 18 times. When he contracted Covid-19, it was Tsai Ing-wen who sent him a recovery treatment.

Taiwan’s generosity also played a role in financing the country’s reconstruction after the 2021 riots. One of the king’s sons, like many other young Swazis, had the opportunity to study on the island and obtain his degree. Taipei also turns a blind eye to the lack of democracy in this small country and violations of human rights.

Soukaina Sghir

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