SOMALILAND has opened a Representative Office in Taiwan in Taipei almost a month after the Taiwanese government established a similar office in Hargeisa, much to the chagrin of Somalia, which claims sovereignty over the self-governing East African territory, and China.
Mohamed Hagi, Somaliland’s first envoy to Taiwan, declined to comment on the Chinese hostility seen since Taiwan and Somaliland pledged to strengthen ties in July.
‘The bilateral accord between Somaliland and Taiwan is based on common values of freedom and democracy,’ said Hagi, who arrived in early August to prepare for the new office.
He said that the bilateral relationship upheld ‘mutual assistance that will never expose any harm whatsoever to the interests of other countries, but rather contributes to international peace and regional economic activities.’
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu declared in July that Taiwan and Somaliland were establishing reciprocal representative offices as part of a treaty signed by the two governments ‘to advance ties in a wide array of areas.’
The offices do not reflect diplomatic relations but are of a highly official nature, Wu stated at the time, adding that bilateral talks had commenced months ago.
During the opening of the Somaliland Representative Office on Wednesday, Hagi said the territory was looking forward to collaborations on trade, security, infrastructure, health, and agriculture.
He encouraged Taiwanese companies to invest in Somaliland, adding that the government was prepared to offer tax exemptions and other incentives to attract foreign investment.
Foreign Minister Wu said at the ceremony: ‘Our countries have collaborated on healthcare, education, and maritime security since 2019.
‘The opening of the Somaliland Representative Office marks a new chapter in Taiwan-Somaliland relations.’
He acknowledged that both Taiwan and Somaliland were facing ‘external pressures’ that threaten their shared values, but said that the government was looking forward to exploring common interests and mutual benefits.
He cited fisheries, energy, and agriculture, among other fields as examples.
In a pre-recorded video, Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi said it was time for the country to ‘initiate efforts to strengthen relations with Taiwan and all other nations in the world in order to facilitate bilateral trade and economic cooperation.’
He added: ‘Our country promotes universal peace and fosters better relations with our neighbours, the rest of the African nations, and the world at large.’
After initially declining to meet China’s ambassador to Somalia, Qin Jian, Abdi reportedly received a delegation from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in August in what appeared to be an attempt by Beijing to forestall the territory’s rapprochement with Taiwan.
After the meeting, Somaliland’s Presidential Palace issued a statement saying that the government would maintain a good relationship with China based on mutual respect and cooperation in the economic, trade, and development realms.
Neither Somaliland nor Taiwan has yet agreed to move on to the next stage and open full diplomatic relations.
The Somaliland Representative Office will employ five members of staff from Somaliland and two from Taiwan, according to reports
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