TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- Burkina Faso has broken diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the West African nation's foreign minister said Thursday, in the latest blow to the self-ruled island that Beijing has been trying to isolate on the global stage.
Burkina Faso's decision means Taiwan is recognized as a sovereign nation by only 18 mainly small, developing countries. Earlier this month, the Dominican Republic established diplomatic relations with China and severed ties with Taiwan.
"The evolution of the world and the defined socio-economic challenges of our region required us to reconsider our position," Burkina Faso's foreign affairs minister, Alpha Barry, told journalists.
The minister also announced the immediate closure of Taiwan's embassy in Ouagadougou and the repatriation of Burkina Faso's diplomats from Taiwan.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu confirmed the move at a briefing Thursday. His ministry accused Beijing of working to end Taiwan's 24-year relationship with Burkina Faso.
Independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen told reporters that Taiwan would only work harder at cooperating with other countries.
"I want to tell my people that China's outrageous acts of suppressing Taiwan's sovereignty have already challenged the bottom line of Taiwanese society. We will no longer tolerate it," Tsai said. "We will be more determined, continue to move toward the world and keep working with other countries who share the same economic and security aspects."
Taiwan has previously condemned what it called China's "dollar diplomacy" campaign of luring away Taiwan's allies with promises of vast financial aid and investment.
China's foreign ministry said Beijing appreciates Burkina Faso's move to sever ties with Taiwan.
"We welcome Burkina Faso to join the family of China-Africa friendship and cooperation at an early stage, based on the 'one China' principle," it said in a statement.
Beijing, which claims the island as its own territory, has been steadily dialing up the pressure on President Tsai. China has blocked Taiwan's participation in international meetings such as the World Health Assembly and has pressured multinational companies ranging from fashion brands to airlines to describe Taiwan as part of China.
The ruling Communist Party's military wing, the People's Liberation Army, has sent fighter planes near Taiwan's coast a dozen times since Tsai's election and an aircraft carrier sailing through the 110-mile-wide (170-kilometer-wide) strait that separates them.
Tsai's ruling Democratic Progressive Party says it wants stable relations with China, but hasn't followed Tsai's predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou, in endorsing the "one China" principle.
Some analysts say Chinese President Xi Jinping, one of the most powerful Chinese leaders in decades, seems determined to bring Taiwan under Beijing's control during his time in office, something that would place him in the history books alongside Mao Zedong.
Xi has warned a Taiwanese envoy that the issue of unification cannot be put off indefinitely.