Taipei, Taiwan, August 3, 2020 – The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Monday declined to comment on a report by the Somaliland news website that the Horn of African nation is preparing to recognize Taiwan, reports the national news agency (CNA) of the Republic of China.
“The MOFA will not comment on Somaliland media reports that quote unnamed sources,” MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement.
Ou said, however, that Taiwanese MOFA and Somaliland’s government agencies, including its foreign ministry, continue to discuss exchanges of representative offices and future cooperation plans based on mutual benefit and reciprocity.
She was responding to a report in the Somaliland Chronicle that said Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has instructed “close confidants” to explore the possibility of mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland.
The news report, which quoted sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said President Bihi is weighing the “pros and cons of unilateral recognition of Taiwan.”
Sources added that President Bihi has ordered a close examination of a law recently passed by the United States Congress known as the TAIPEI Act, and to immediately provide him with recommendations, and risk analysis on the pros and cons of unilateral recognition of Taiwan.
As a response to China’s aggressive policy preventing other countries from recognizing or maintaining diplomatic ties Taiwan, the United States Congress unanimously passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative or the TAIPEI Act on March 26, 2020.
Section 3 of The TAIPEI Act explicitly encourages diplomatic and bilateral ties with Taiwan and discourages countries from any actions that undermine Taiwan.
On July 1, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced at a press conference in Taipei that Taiwan and Somaliland signed an agreement in February to set up representative offices in each other’s territory.
Both sides have already named officials to head those offices, although the date of their official opening has not yet been announced.
The White House Security Council has praised Taiwan’s engagement in East Africa after Taipei and Hargeisa established bilateral ties on July 1st, 2020.
But the moves have been condemned by the governments of China and Somalia, as Beijing considers Taiwan as part of its territory and Mogadishu sees Somaliland in the same way.
Somalia’s opposition to Somaliland – Taiwan’s diplomatic ties and alignment with China, puts the United States Embassy in Somalia and Ambassador Donald Yamamoto who has thrown his full support behind President Mohamed Abdillahi Farmajo out of step with the rest of the United States government and specifically with the TAIPEI Act.
The Chinese Ambassador to Somalia Mr. Qin Jian arrived in Hargeisa yesterday for the third time this year and according to sources, President Bihi has rejected meeting the Chinese Ambassador who remains in Hargeisa.
Somaliland has previously rejected China’s demand to cut ties with Taiwan.
Taiwan has 15 diplomatic allies and maintains economic and cultural offices in more than 50 countries around the world, and after Eswatini, Somaliland would be the second country in Africa to officially recognize Taiwan.
Though not recognized as a country by the international community, Somaliland has more than 20 representative offices in various countries while several nations and international organizations, including the United Nations, maintain offices in Hargeisa.
Somaliland has had a string of diplomatic successes recently due to its strategic location in the Horn of Africa where Ethiopia and Egypt are now competing for closer ties with Somaliland.
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