Plans to officially set up a Somaliland representative office in Taipai are far advanced. The foreign office, which is scheduled to be opened in early September with a staff of five, is represented by Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud.
“Work is still ongoing to set up the representative office in Taiwan, which is expected to start operations by September 9. The five employees include two Taiwanese, who are yet to be recruited, along with two from Somaliland who arrived in Taiwan along with Mohamoud”, Focus Taiwan reported. Mohamoud, who arrived in Taiwan on August 7 and completed 14 days of mandatory COVID-19 quarantine, attended his first event at a “seminar held by the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association where Taiwan allowed Africa-based Taiwanese businessmen and African students studying in Taiwan to share their views on exploring trade opportunities in the continent.”
According to Focus Taiwan the representative of the self-declared East African state to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, “described the relationship between Somaliland and Taiwan as “formal,” saying that this is evident because of a treaty signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries earlier this year to establish representative offices in each other’s countries.”
The decision to Establish the Representative office
The two non-members of the United Nations signed the diplomatic agreement to set up official representative bodies in their respective territories earlier in February this year, but only made it public in July. Taiwanese Foreign minister, Joseph Wu, declared in July that “we have signed an agreement with Somaliland to establish good relations. A Taiwan Representative Office will be set up in this independent country on the Horn of Africa. We are thousands of miles apart, but share a deep-seated love of freedom & democracy.”
Taiwan-Somaliland Relations and China’s One-country Policy
China for decades now has claimed Taiwan as part of its territory and vehemently opposes any Country’s attempt to treat Taiwan as a sovereign state. The Chinese Embassy in Somalia reasserted in July this year that “there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is a part of China and the government of PRC is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.”
However, government officials of the two internationally non-recognized states seem undeterred by China’s geopolitical concerns, asserting the need to further consolidate their cooperation. Mohamoud is reported to have said “establishing bilateral relations between Somaliland and Taiwan will benefit each side but will not threaten or damage other countries, he went on, describing Somaliland as an independent sovereign country and saying that other countries cannot dictate with whom “we are going to develop relations.” Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu commenting on relations with Somaliland stated that he thinks “what we are doing is not much different from other countries, in essence, Somaliland is an independent country…we will not stop doing what we should be doing because of Chinese pressure.”
Somaliland has official representative offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Belgium, and Switzerland, while Taiwan has formal diplomatic ties with just 15 countries.
China currently has official diplomatic relations with all African countries except Eswatini (former Swaziland).