Sao Tome Says Island Open to China and Taiwan for Oil

Sao Tome and Principe is open to oil exploration from Chinese and Taiwanese companies, as the African island expands relations with the world’s second-largest economy, Prime Minister Gabriel Costa said.

“Taiwanese companies are welcome to participate in oil drilling due to the two nations’ long-term relations,” Costa said in an interview in Taipei, referring to the diplomatic relationship it has with Taiwan. “It is open to everybody, including China.”

Trade between China and Sao Tome, an island of about 187,000 people, was $3.4 million last year, making China its fifth-largest trade partner, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sao Tome’s largest partner is Portugal, which claimed the uninhabited island in the 15th century.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since Nationalist party leaders fled to the island in 1949 during a civil war with Communist forces. China considers Taiwan a renegade province that it has pledged to unify, by force if necessary. Taiwan’s Republic of China government, under President Ma Ying-Jeou, adheres to the principle of a single China, which Chinese and Taiwanese leaders interpret differently.

Costa is visiting Taiwan to lure investors a week after China opened a trade office in Sao Tome, a diplomatic ally of Taiwan. Africa’s second-smallest country exports cocoa and has a joint oil and gas exploration agreement with Nigeria, located about 308 miles north (496 kilometers).

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