The west African state of Liberia has switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. Taiwan accused the mainland of using a 'carrot and stick' approach to force Liberia to make the switch – the carrot being aid offers and the stick being a threat to interfere with the budget of the United Nations' peacekeeping force that is operating in the country.
Taiwan's government is now recognised by just 26 nations, most of them small, developing countries in Latin America and Africa in receipt of generous aid from Taipei. The Pacific island of Nauru (in 2002) and the Balkan state of Macedonia (in 2001) were the most recent countries to switch recognition to the mainland.
Macau given link role China and seven Portuguesespeaking countries have signed a trade co-operation pact in Macau, establishing the former Portuguese territory as a link between the two sides. The group, which comprises China, Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and East Timor, set up a permanent secretariat in Macau for follow-up activities and to prepare for the second forum in Macau in 2006.
The agreement is the first of its kind between China and one of the world's language communities. Portuguese is spoken by an estimated 220m people in eight countries on four continents.