Taiwan and the African region of Somaliland, which claims independence, will establish representative offices in each other’s capitals, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on July 8. Till present Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties with 15 countries because of pressure from the Communist China, which considers the island to be an integral part of its territory with no right to state-to-state relations.
However in February this year Taiwan signed the agreement with Somaliland, strategically located on the Horn of Africa, and Minister Wu added Taiwan’s contacts with Somaliland, a self-declared state internationally recognised only as an autonomous region of Somalia, dated back to 2009.
The top diplomat told reporters in Taipei that eight other nations or international bodies had representative offices in Somaliland, including Ethiopia, although not China.
“I think what we are doing is not much different from other countries,” Wu said, adding that Somaliland had declared independence in 1991 and since then held three democratic presidential elections.
“They have been recognised by many countries as a very free, democratic country in Africa,” the diplomat added. “So, in essence, Somaliland is an independent country.”
China’s influence is not far away, though, as it runs its first ever overseas military base in neighbouring Djibouti.
“International military forces, including those from China, patrol the waters around Somalia on anti-piracy missions.
China and Taiwan have traded barbs for years over the international recognition of the island.
In Africa only the Kingdom of Eswatini has established full diplomatic ties with Taiwan, however in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Embassy doors remain closed.