Taiwan ambassador to eSwatini suffers stroke

Diplomat in intensive care at South African hospital

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Taiwan's ambassador to eSwatini, Thomas Chen.

Taiwan's ambassador to eSwatini, Thomas Chen. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The ambassador to Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in Africa, eSwatini, suffered a stroke and was transferred to an intensive care ward in South Africa, reports said Tuesday.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited the landlocked African country, which was previously known as Swaziland, last April to mark the 50th anniversary of official diplomatic relations. King Mswati III traveled to Taiwan earlier this month for a visit which included the graduation of his son from a local university.

Ambassador Thomas Chen (陳經銓) collapsed while working in his office on the morning of June 22 and was transferred to intensive care but hadn’t regained consciousness since, according to a report in the Apple Daily.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Tuesday it had first asked the Taiwanese medical team working in eSwatini to provide first aid to the diplomat before eSwatini ministers consulted his relatives and decided to have him transferred to a hospital in South Africa. Key members of the Taiwanese medical mission are still helping Chen, MOFA said.

The ambassador’s condition was too grave for him to be flown from South Africa to Taiwan, the Apple Daily reported.

President Tsai and King Mswati III had both expressed concern about Chen’s state of health and wished him a speedy recovery.

Chen had been serving in the country since 2013, according to the Central News Agency. After Burkina Faso decided to switch recognition to China this year, eSwatini became Taiwan’s only official ally on the continent. The island now has a total of 18 diplomatic allies, mostly small or impoverished nations in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific.