Establishing Diplomatic Relations with Taiwan and following in its footsteps, Somaliland could have greater success in breaking into international fora, such as the World Health Assembly, as it is less likely that China would put as much pressure on member-states and organizations into blocking its attendance.
By Jumana Jabeer
On July 1, news broke that Taiwan and Somaliland, an unrecognized state that split away from Somalia in 1991, would set up delegate offices in their respective nations. The two nations didn’t report the foundation of formal diplomatic ties, yet they are strengthening existing relations with the new offices in the expectations that relationship prospers. Somaliland is Taiwan’s first new ally since 2007 when it formed ties with Saint Lucia. It has also lost diplomatic relations with many countries since 2016. Somaliland, a self-declared state in East Africa with a nearly 3.5 million population, is yet to be recognized as a state by the international community. However, the tiny state on the Horn of Africa has its own flag, parliament, and currency.
If both parties announce formal relations, at that point Taiwan would turn into the first nation to diplomatically recognize Somaliland, which is considered an autonomous region of Somalia.
However in a tweet responding to the news, Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi said the “Representative Office will be opened soon in Taiwan.”
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COVID-19 appeared to change the story around Taiwan: from a country whose presence is frequently portrayed as remaining on the edge of a blade to one that competently and viably took care of the pandemic with less than 10 deaths. Before the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the globe, the main time that the vast majority would catch wind of Taiwan was in stories about China squeezing it militarily or diplomatically.
The establishment of ties between the two self-governing territories provides a boost to Taiwan, which for years has waged a losing battle against Beijing to win or maintain the diplomatic recognition of small nations.
In the meantime, a news story published in the Somaliland Chronicle on Sunday reported that Chinese Ambassador Mr. Qin Jian visited Somaliland twice over the past few months to persuade the Somaliland government to cease all activities with Taiwan, and it emphasized that Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi and minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation Yasin Hagi Mohamoud Hiir declined Qin’s request.
“In the spirit of mutual assistance for mutual benefit, Taiwan and Somaliland will engage in cooperation in areas such as fisheries, agriculture, energy, mining, public health, education and technology”, Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu Said the international media.
He also noted that because formal diplomatic ties have not been established, the office in Somaliland will be called the “Taiwan Representative Office,” with no mention of Taiwan’s official name, Republic of China. And Somaliland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted, “The Government of Somaliland identified issues of mutual concern, including building-bridges of diplomacy; opening missions to boost political and socioeconomic links between the Republic of Somaliland and the Republic of China (Taiwan).” The two sides have signed agreements in February 2020, but only just made the details public.
The two states are to a great extent unrecognized by the international community. Nor are members of the United Nations. They have representative offices in key nations over the globe, with Taiwan having a much larger informal diplomatic presence around the globe than Somaliland, which just has offices in only 22 nations. As this new relationship flourishes, Taiwan can advise Somaliland on how it has been able to navigate its diplomatic situation For quite a long time, Taiwan has emphasized solid, informal ties with key nations, for example, the United States and Japan, and those lessons of developing informal ties with global and regional power players could benefit Somaliland.
This guidance could even extend beyond bilateral ties into international organizations, which Taiwan has struggled to break back into recently due to outsized pressure from China. Somaliland, following in Taiwan’s footsteps, could have greater success in breaking into international fora, such as the World Health Assembly, as it is less likely that China would put as much pressure on member-states and organizations into blocking its attendance.
By Jumana Jabeer
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