China cannot dictate who Somaliland can have relations with as it was a sovereign nation and “born free,” Somaliland Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Essa Kayd said yesterday in Taipei.
Taipei, Taiwan – China cannot dictate who Somaliland can have relations with as it was a sovereign nation and “born free”, the foreign minister of the Republic of Somaliland said on Friday during a trip to Taiwan which has been condemned by Beijing.
The Republic of Somaliland, formerly the British Somaliland Protectorate, became Independent on June 26, 1960. It merged with the former Italian Colony of Somalia when it too became Independent on July 1, 1960.
However, this merger was doomed from the start because of the economic, cultural, and administrative differences that were made clear soon after the union of these two Somali Nations. As a result, the people of Somaliland took steps to dissociate themselves from Somalia as early as 1961.
It took a long and protracted civil war between the people of Somaliland and the troops of the former Dictator Siyad Barre, in order to finally restore Somaliland’s sovereignty on May 18, 1991, but has not gained widespread international recognition for its independence. The country has been mostly peaceful while Somalia has grappled with three decades of civil war.
Somaliland and Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory and likewise diplomatically isolated, set up representative offices in each other’s capitals in 2020, angering Beijing and Mogadishu.
Strategically situated on the Horn of Africa, Somaliland borders Djibouti, where China maintains its first-ever overseas military base.
China’s Foreign Ministry said this week Taiwan was “fanning the flames to undermine the independence and unification of other countries, harming others without benefiting themselves” by hosting a senior ministerial delegation from Somaliland.
Speaking to reporters, Somaliland Foreign Minister Essa Kayd said China cannot dictate to his country.
“We were born free and we will stay free. We will run our business the way we want. China cannot dictate, no other country can dictate.”
Kayd added that they were open to dealing with anyone who respected them as a sovereign country and wanted to do business without any strings or conditions.
“I think that’s as clear as I can go on China.”
Taiwan has been all but driven out of Africa diplomatically by China in recent years, with only tiny eSwatini now maintaining full relations with the island.
China has ramped up pressure on countries not to engage with Taiwan as it seeks to assert its sovereignty claims, and both frequently trade barbs about using “dollar diplomacy” with loans and cash gifts in exchange for international recognition.
Somaliland Finance Minister Saad Ali Shire said his country had made no requests so far to borrow from Taiwan.
“There has been a flow of funds from Taiwan to Somaliland in the form of aid and in the form of investment, which we welcome.”
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