Somalilandsun: “The bilateral relationship of Somaliland and Taiwan is built upon shared values and mutual respect,” thence intensification of relations between Taipei and Hargeisa.
This was stated via a tweet by Somaliland President Musa Bihi Abdi (@musebiihi) last Wednesday when he acknowledged official relations with Taiwan and revealed that a citizen shall be appointed diplomatic representative in Taiwan.
For a period of time reports of a Taiwan and Somaliland pact have been circulating, to the effect that both shall set up representative offices in their respective countries. The two countries did not announce the establishment of formal diplomatic ties.
But last Wednesday the Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu said at a press conference, “Our two governments have agreed to swap official representative offices under the titles of Taiwan representative office and Somaliland representative office based on our friendship and shared belief.”
Wu said Taiwan’s contacts with Somaliland, which declared independence in 1991 but is recognized internationally only as an autonomous region of Somalia, dated back to 2009, adding that the agreement to exchange diplomats was entered into in February this year.
In justification of the Taiwanese move which does not sit properly with mainland China minister Wu told reporters in Taipei that eight other nations or international bodies had representative offices in Somaliland, including Ethiopia.
“I think what we are doing is not much different from other countries,” Wu said. “In essence, Somaliland is an independent country.”
China’s influence is not far away, though, as it maintains its first-ever overseas military base in neighboring Djibouti. International military forces, including those from China, patrol the waters around Somalia on anti-piracy missions.
China and Taiwan have traded accusations for years of using loans and aid to gain international recognition.
“We will not stop doing what we should be doing because of Chinese pressure,” Wu said. He did not offer details of any aid Taiwan may provide to Somaliland, but said it was rich in energy resources and fishing grounds.
Taiwan has formal with just 15 countries because of pressure from China, which considers the island to be its territory with no right to state-to-state ties. In Africa, only tiny Eswatini maintains full ties with Taiwan.
China is a major economic player in Africa, lending billions of dollars and drawing complaints from the United States in particular of waging debt diplomacy. Beijing denies the accusations.
Immediately upon the agreement to exchange diplomats between Taipei and Hargeisa became official, the Chinese Embassy in Mogadishu took up the diplomatic fight between Somalia and Somaliland stating that
“There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is a part of China and the government of PRC is the sole legal government representing the whole of China,” words reminiscent of the old and defunct Chinese communist era.
Then it followed up with a threat that was not the least veiled by the undiplomatic, in a tweet @ChineseSomalia that read “We will never allow anyone, any organization or any political party to separate any piece of territory from China at any time or in any form. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.#Somalia#COVID-19”
But things have taken on a more serious approach with president Farmajo and the Mogadishu based Chinese envoy to Somalia Ambassador Qin Jian holding a meeting at villa Somalia where the Taiwan-Somaliland pact was castigated
Their discussions guised as pertaining to enhancement of relations between the two countries Amb Jian and president Farmajo were unanimous of the imperatives of having Somalia and china territorial integrity remain intact.
Literally this translates to Taiwan being a part of mainland China while Somaliland is the northwest region of Somalia.
As President Farmajo tries to entice China into the political dispute between Somaliland and his war torn country the governments in Hargeisa and Taipei have taken their relations a notch high by appointing diplomatic representatives.
In Taipei the foreign minister unveiled Ambassador Lou Chen-hwa as the Taiwan diplomatic representative in Somaliland.
This was reciprocated by announcement that president Muse Bihi has appointed Mohamed Omar Haji Mohamud, a bright young career politician and analyst who has played a pivotal role in the relationship secured with Taiwan, as the Somaliland diplomatic representative in Taipei.
Somaliland, despite the feeble protestations of spoon-fed Villa Somalia, is gaining formidable friends both in Africa and out there at other continents.
On the same day as the Taiwanese relationship hit the media, MPs at the Gambian parliament were firing questions at Foreign Minister Momodou Tangaranon why his country has not recognized the Republic of Somaliland thus far. The event showed how far afield in the continent the Somaliland issue has taken root.
For Gambia which is favourably to Taiwanese right to statehood, the issue of Somaliland is a bit complex thence the warning to lobbying MPs to back down
In at least two occasions, AU fact-finding missions sent to Somaliland declared that there was no legal obstacle to stand on the way to a restored sovereignty in Somaliland.
in 2018, Somalia ‘severed ties’ with a country it had no diplomatic presence – Guinea Conakry making itself a laughing stock simply because His Excellency the President of the Republic of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi, was most royally welcomed there.