TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan and the self-governing African territory of Somaliland are in the process of mutually establishing representative offices, thus furthering bilateral ties that have been developing quietly for a while.
Both governments have "agreed that the establishment of representative offices will best serve the interests of one another," said Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon (July 1). The representative offices do not reflect diplomatic relations but are of a highly official nature, said Wu, adding that the government has no urgent plans to establish formal relations with Somaliland.
Bilateral talks started as early as the end of 2019, and a treaty was signed in February when Somaliland's Foreign Minister Yasin Hagi Mohamoud visited Taipei and met with President Tsai Ing Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the Presidential Office. Both representative offices will be led by ambassadorial officials, said Wu, who declined to name potential nominees from both sides.
MOFA photo of Somaliland's Foreign Minister Yasin Hagi Mohamoud (left) and President Tsai (Taiwan News, Teng Pei-ju image)
According to Wu, the Taiwan Representative Office in Somaliland will be similar to other representative offices that the island nation has set up in non-allied countries. It will not be the first time that a representative office has adopted "Taiwan," but those that used to do so have been forced to change over the years — mostly into "Taipei" — due to China's pressure, the minister said.
"Somaliland declared independence in 1991 and has gone through three presidential elections since. It has been recognized by many countries as a democratic nation in Africa," said Wu, who did not respond directly to questions over whether the Taiwanese government recognizes its independence from Somalia, which is located in East Africa. Nevertheless, in an earlier tweet, Wu said: "A #Taiwan Representative Office will be set up in this independent country on the Horn of #Africa."
We've 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're thousands of miles apart, but share a deep-seated love of freedom & democracy. JW pic.twitter.com/JY78AvXbwS— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan)