Addressing delegates during the opening ceremony of the ruling Communist Party of China’s 20th National Congress a few days ago, President Xi Jinping spoke decisively about China’s determination on the reunification with Taiwan, which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) considers part of its territory.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was quoted by international media to have said that his country reserves the option of “taking all measures necessary” against “interference by outside forces” on the issue of Taiwan. Said Jinping in a translated message:

“We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort. But, we will never promise to renounce the use of force. And we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”

It is widely known that, despite Taiwan’s belief that it is an independent territory, Beijing holds the position that there is only one sovereign state under the name China, with the PRC serving as the sole legitimate government of China, and that Taiwan is a part of China.

If what the Chinese president said in the past week is anything to go by, there might be a shift in the global power dynamics and a number of experts have not ruled out war, because, for instance, while the US is said to be having no official ties with Taiwan, it does have a law which requires it to provide Taiwan with resources to defend itself, whenever necessary. Quite recently, US President Joe Biden was quoted by media to have said US forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

Only a few countries recognize Taiwan. Most recognize the Chinese government in Beijing instead. There is also a standing resolution of the UN on the matter and the global body does not recognize Taiwan as an independent territory.

An expert who spoke to The Bridge on condition of anonymity said, “This is a very complex matter, more so for us as a country because of China’s recent project to build relations with the African continent. Remember that eSwatini is the only African country with official ties with Taiwan and this has meant it loses on the investment opportunities provided by the PRC.”

The last African country to break formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan was Burkina Faso which later re-established formal ties with China. Burkina Faso had followed Gambia, São Tomé, and Príncipe, leaving eSwatini as the only one standing with Taiwan on the African continent.

Taiwan has invested a lot in eSwatini over the years, and King Mswati mentioned this during his recent official visit to Taiwan. He was also quoted by Taiwan News saying the world must take China’s threat against Taiwan seriously.

With the growing tensions between the PRC and Taiwan, and given eSwatini’s relationship with the latter, everyone is looking forward and asking pertinent questions about how the future will look like and what this means for eSwatini. Our international relations expert also says this is interesting, given the proximity of the US and the democracy movement in eSwatini, in relation to the interests of the former in the China – Taiwan matter.