China and Somalia on Tuesday (Aug 18) hit out at Taiwan for opening a representative office in the Republic of Somaliland after the two sides wove stronger ties.
Taiwan opened its office in the Somaliland capital Hargeisa on Monday, with the flags of both sides raised and their anthems played.
Beijing accused the authorities in Taiwan of separatism and acting with “desperation”.
Somalia’s foreign ministry condemned Taiwan’s move, describing that Taipei’s “reckless attempts to infringe on the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Somalia and violate its territorial integrity”.
Taiwan is officially recognized by only 15 countries – seven of its diplomatic allies switched to establish formal ties with China after President Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016.
Tsai describes Taiwan as already independent, but China, which views Taiwan as its own territory, has vowed to seize it one day, by force if necessary, especially if the island formally declares independence.
An important milestone for the #Taiwan–#Somaliland partnership! Today we opened the Taiwan Representative Office in Somaliland. We are bound together by our shared values of freedom, democracy, justice & the rule of law, ideals that will guide our future cooperation. pic.twitter.com/upAcpnJGfp
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) August 17, 2020
Taiwan has for decades been engaged in a diplomatic tug-of-war with Beijing in which each side tries to woo the other’s allies with financial and other incentives.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing that Beijing “firmly opposes Taiwan and Somaliland setting up official organizations or conducting official relations with each other”.
“There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of it,” Zhao said.
China firmly opposes the establishment of any official institution and any official exchanges between Taiwan and Somaliland. There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The DPP authorities’ separatist moves will never succeed. pic.twitter.com/yNWQiNEeSb
— Spokesperson发言人办公室 (@MFA_China) August 18, 2020
Somaliland is in a somewhat similar position to Taiwan. In 1991, Somaliland has withdrawn itself from its former union with Somalia, created in July 1960 after both countries gained independence from their former colonies, Britain and Italy respectively, but remains unrecognized by the international community.
While anarchic southern Somalia has been riven by years of fighting between multiple militia forces and Islamist violence, Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace.
The statement from the Somali foreign ministry urged Taiwan to “cease its misinformed ventures into any part” of its territory.
Read below the full statement of Somalia’s government:
“The Federal Government of Somalia condemned Taiwan’s reckless attempts to infringe on the Sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Somalia and violate its Territorial Integrity.
The Federal Government of Somalia repudiates such misguided endeavors that seek to sow discord and division among our people.
The Federal Republic of Somalia stands to protect its Sovereignty, the Unity of its People, and its Territorial Integrity.
Somalia affirms its position of respect for the Principle of Sovereignty of States in accordance with the International Law and the Charters of the United Nations.
The Federal Government of Somalia therefore, calls on Taiwan to cease its misinformed ventures into any part of the territory of the Federal Republic of Somalia. These Principles are non-negotiable to the Federal Government of Somalia.
The Federal Government of Somalia shall undertake necessary measures within international law to protect the country’s Unity, Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity, and Political Independence.”