The East African (Nairobi) – By Abdulkadir Khalif
Mogadishu — China has criticised a bid by Taiwan to establish diplomatic relations with Somaliland, the breakaway region of Somalia that announced its independence nearly 30 years ago.
In a terse statement on Thursday, China’s Embassy in Mogadishu rejected the deal, arguing it violated the One China policy for which Beijing is the sole representative of Chinese affairs abroad.
The Chinese Embassy in Somalia censured the Taiwanese activities in seeking to establish external relations, saying, “such activities remain illegal and will never be recognised by the Peoples’ Republic of China.”
“There is one China in the world. Taiwan is part of China and the government of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.”
The statement came after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen acknowledged Somaliland’s announcement to establish a representative office in Taiwan as meant to boost “mutually beneficial cooperation.”
Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi had on Tuesday said his territory will open a representative office in Taipei soon based on “mutual respect.”
Taiwan, which insists on being independent of mainland China, does not enjoy recognition in Africa. Only the Kingdom of eSwatini has established diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
Somaliland, not recognised by any other sovereign state in the world, could be using this to push for its own recognition, something it has tried to get since declaring independence from Somalia in 1991.
Taiwan used to be called Republic of China and a member of the UN until 1971 when the UN General assembly voted to expel the government in Taipei and replace it with Beijing (then known as Peking). Officially, the People’s Republic of China whose capital is Beijing is the sole Chinese member of the UN.
Beijing also insists to be the sole representative of foreign affairs of China, even though it grants some autonomy to Taiwan.
Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, following the collapse of the dictatorial regime in Somalia led by the late General Mohamed Siad Barre.
Mogadishu does not recognise the separatist move. But Mogadishu has not spoken on the latest development.