Taipei/Hargeisa, August 17, 2020 (CNA) – Taiwan has formally opened a representative office in Somaliland, a self-declared East African state, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) confirmed Monday.
The opening ceremony was led by Lou Chen-hwa (羅震華), Taiwan’s chief envoy in Somaliland, and Yasin Hagi Mohamoud, Somaliland’s foreign minister, with members of the foreign missions in Somaliland in attendance, MOFA said in a statement,
A pre-recorded congratulatory message by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was played and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) delivered his remarks live via a video call during the ceremony, according to MOFA.
The two governments signed a technical cooperation agreement at the ceremony, MOFA said, and Taiwan will send a technical mission to Hargeisa to work on different projects.
In Tsai’s video message, which was shared on her Facebook page, she said the friendship between Taiwan and Somaliland is based on the common values of freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law.
She also said Taiwan is firmly committed to working with Somaliland in such areas as agriculture, fisheries, energy, mining, public health, education and information and communications technology.
Wu pledged to “expand and deepen” the cooperation between Taipei and Hargeisa that began in 2019.
Earlier in the day, African media the Horn Diplomat posted photos and other materials of the opening ceremony on its Twitter feed, including a video clip that showed the raising of the national flag of the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwan’s formal name.
Taiwan currently has diplomatic relations with only 15 countries around the world, and has struggled to carve out an international presence because of China’s suppression.
Its latest gambit with Somaliland, which is not recognized as a country by the international community, seeks to expand its reach in a part of the world where it has little influence.
On July 1, Wu announced at a press conference in Taipei that Taiwan and Somaliland signed an agreement in February to exchange representative offices.
Beijing objected to the move, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, even though Taiwan has not been under the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China since it was founded on Oct. 1, 1949.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, arrived in Taiwan on Aug. 7, according to his Twitter feed. It is not yet known, however, when Somaliland will open its office in Taiwan.
Somaliland declared independence in 1991 after a civil war in Somalia. It has foreign missions in about a dozen countries, according to its foreign ministry website.
Though Taiwan only has 15 diplomatic allies, it maintains economic and cultural offices in more than 50 countries around the world.
(By Emerson Lim)