Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Thursday responded to criticism from China and Somalia on the exchange of offices between Taiwan and Somaliland, slamming their promotion of the “one China principle” and “one Somalia principle.”
On Monday, Taiwan opened a representative office in Somaliland, a self-declared state in East Africa, in fulfillment of an agreement signed between Taiwan and Somaliland in February.
However, the development has attracted the ire of China, which sees Taiwan as its territory, and Somalia, which has a similar view of Somaliland.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) on Wednesday slammed the opening of the Taiwan Representative Office in Somaliland as promoting secessionism.
On the same day, Somalia issued a statement on its foreign ministry website, condemning “Taiwan’s reckless attempts” to infringe on the sovereignty of Somalia and violate its territorial integrity.
Responding to these criticisms, Joanne Ou (歐江安), spokesperson of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said at a regular press conference that the People’s Republic of China has not ruled Taiwan for a single day, it has no right to represent the Taiwanese people or to interfere in Taiwan’s engagement with other countries.
On Somalia’s statement, Ou said the idea of “one Somalia” sounds familiar to Taiwan as it resembles Beijing’s “one China principle.”
“The ‘one Somalia principle’ and the ‘one China principle’ are both funny and absurd. We believe Somalia made the statement under the influence of China,” Ou said.
Ou further said that Somaliland has held three presidential elections since it declared independence from Somalia in 1991, adding that Taiwan and Somaliland’s deepening of relations is based on the common values of freedom and democracy.
She further noted that countries like the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ethiopia, Turkey and Canada, as well as international organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union, also have offices in Somaliland.
Although several countries and international organizations maintain offices in Somaliland, it is still not recognized as a country by the international community.
Meanwhile, Ou said she was “as shocked as everyone” after seeing a recent photo circulating on news sites and social platforms in which Chinese ambassador Tang Songgen (唐松根) is seen walking on the backs of a row of locals lying face down in Kiribati.
Although Kiribati citizens have said that the picture shows a local custom in Kiribati used to welcome guests, others have interpreted the photo as indicative of China’s domineering attitude towards smaller Pacific nations.
Asked by reporters whether Taiwan’s previous envoys to Kiribati, which shifted diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in September 2019, ever participated in the customary practice, Ou said Taiwan doesn’t treat its friends that way.