US praises Taiwan's ties with Somaliland
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The US has praised emerging close ties between secessionist Taiwan and the northern breakaway region of Somaliland, terming their extraordinary friendship as "important" at the time of "tremendous" need.
Authorities in Taipei are keen to establish solid ties with other countries across the world and have since formalized a partnership with Somaliland, which is also facing challenges similar to it, as the two regions struggle to attain international recognition.
Taiwan is facing resistance from the People's Republic of China, which insists that the island remains part of its territory. On the other hand, Somaliland has been fighting to be recognized, having declared self-independence in 1991 following years of "toxic" marriage.
And in a tweet on Thursday, through the White House National Security Council [NSC], Washington hailed Taiwan's on its diplomatic offensive in East Africa, arguing that normalization of ties with the region would improve the economic growth of countries along the Indian Ocean coastal strip.
"Great to see Taiwan stepping up its engagement in East Africa in a time of such tremendous need. Taiwan is a great partner in health, education, technical assistance, and more," read the tweet, in reference to the recent diplomatic reunion between the two regions.
Although the US did not reveal the reason behind its support to the two separatist regions, it is fairly understood that Washington has been at loggerheads with Beijing in what is closely linked to economic and military rivalry, which has often been manifested in their public engagements.
For instance, Gen Stephen Townsend, the US Africa Command commander, recently took a swipe at China, arguing that "they cannot empower Africa by boosting security through the deployment of military, they are only interested in trade". The US has immensely invested in counter-terrorism campaigns across Africa than both China and Russia.
The support comes days after Taiwan and Somaliland agreed to have representatives in both regions, as they push for their sovereignty status at the United Nations Security Council. Although they signed the cooperation pact in February, it was revealed five months later.
Taiwan accepted the credentials of Mohamed Hagi, who will now serve as Somaliland's representative in Taipei. And in return, Somaliland also accepted the credentials of Lou Chen-hwa, who will now head Taiwan's mission in Somaliland.
But China has since opposed the ties, a move which could degenerate into a serious diplomatic tiff in the coming days. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Monday that China maintained ties with Somalia and accused Taiwan of “undermining Somali sovereignty and territorial integrity."
“China firmly opposes Taiwan and Somaliland establishing an official agency or having any form of official exchanges," Zhao told reporters at a daily briefing, just a few hours after Beijing had issued an alert against the ties.
Both Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen insisted that ties between the two would "economic growth" between the two sides, adding that "we settled on this after months of engagement". Both states have diplomatic missions in over 15 countries worldwide.
Coincidentally, Somaliland, which had gained independence from Britain in 1960 before merging with Somalia, is engaged in active talks with Mogadishu, which were brokered by Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh and Ethiopian PM Ahmed Abiy, and the outcome is expected in coming weeks.
Fundamentally, the pronouncements by the US also comes days after Garowe Online established that Hargeisa is pushing the recognition through Kenya, which was recently elected to the powerful United Nations Security Council body, which plays crucial roles in such processes.