Diplomatic convergence of China, Gambia concerns Taiwan

Taiwan worries about its diplomatic future after China and Gambia resume their diplomatic ties

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Taiwan president-elect Tsai Ing-wen attends an event in New Taipei City, Taiwan, March 18, 2016.

Updated Mar 21, 2016

Taiwan’s first female President Tsai Ing-wen called her nation to keep their unity to protect its international space as the diplomatic situation have remained unpredictable after China had resumed diplomatic ties with Gambia, Taiwan’s former ally.

Gambia was among the only a few African nations such as Burkina Faso, Swaziland and São Tomé and Príncipe which had recognised the independence of self-ruled island as China has maintained officially to refer to it as a “province,” evaluating it as a part of its territory.

Taiwanese President Tsai said in a comment on Friday that neither China nor Taiwan need to hurt each others’ feelings.  

"(I) hope the establishment of ties with Gambia is not a targeted move," Tsai said.

"At present, Taiwan's diplomatic situation is not optimistic, and needs everyone to unite together to face up to it, to consistently protect our international space."

Although they have always tried to dissuade each others’ allies, in 2008, they could reach an unofficial diplomatic truce, signing a series of mutual trade deals and economic agreements as the China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou were in office.

The relations reverted back after the election which ended in January with the victory of Tsai’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Gambian Foreign Minister Neneh MacDouall-Gaye and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi signed a joint communique, formalising political stance of Gambia toward Taiwan’s situation.

"The People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, acting in conformity with the interests and desires of the two peoples, desirous of promoting and strengthening ties of friendly relations and cooperation between the two states for the mutual benefit of their peoples in accordance with the principles and purposes of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international law, have agreed and decided to resume diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level as of the date of the signing of this joint communique," the communique said, according to the state-backed Chinese Xinhua news agency.

Senior Taiwan lawmakers expressed their angers one by one towards China after its attempts to poach their ally.  

One of the nationalist lawmakers, Chiang Chi-chen, a member of parliament's defense and foreign affairs committee said that "It has seriously hurt the feelings of the Taiwan people."

According to DPP lawmaker Lo Chih-cheng, Tsai promised to maintain the status quo with China for this reason she would not protest the move strongly.

"But very regretful, before her inauguration, China with its unilateral action has changed the status quo across the Taiwan Strait," Lo said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China had not put any economical obstacle in front of Gambia to drive it to sign the joint communique.

TRTWorld and agencies