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Outsized by China in Africa, Taiwan eyes unrecognised Somaliland

International military forces, including from China, operate in the waters around Somalia on anti-piracy missions. China and Taiwan have traded accusations for years of using "dollar diplomacy" in the form of loans and aid in exchange for international recognition, with some countries switching diplomatic ties more than once.

Reuters | Beijing | Updated: 01-07-2020 14:37 IST | Created: 01-07-2020 14:24 IST
Outsized by China in Africa, Taiwan eyes unrecognised Somaliland
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (File photo)

Taiwan and the breakaway African region of Somaliland will establish representative offices in one another's capitals, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Wednesday, amid an escalating diplomatic tug-of-war between Taipei and Beijing.

Taiwan has signed an agreement with Somaliland to "establish good relations", Wu wrote on Twitter. "A Taiwan Representative Office will be set up in this independent country on the Horn of Africa. We're thousands of miles apart, but share a deep-seated love of freedom and democracy," Wu wrote.

Taiwan has formal diplomatic relations with only 15 countries due to pressure from China, which considers the island to be its territory with no right to state-to-state ties. Somaliland is a self-declared state internationally recognized only as an autonomous region of Somalia. It is strategically located on the Horn of Africa on the shores of the Gulf of Aden, facing war-torn Yemen.

China operates its first-ever overseas military base in the neighboring country of Djibouti. International military forces, including from China, operate in the waters around Somalia on anti-piracy missions.

China and Taiwan have traded accusations for years of using "dollar diplomacy" in the form of loans and aid in exchange for international recognition, with some countries switching diplomatic ties more than once. Taiwan relies on its allies to speak up for the island at venues like the United Nations, where it is excluded due to China's objections.

China has become a major economic player in Africa in recent years, lending the continent billions of dollars and drawing complaints from the United States in particular of neo-colonialism and debt diplomacy. China strongly denies this and says it is a responsible partner bringing development that Western countries will not or cannot provide.


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