The Taiwan-Somaliland partnership: A model for an unofficial approach to diplomatic relations?

(MENAFN- Caribbean News Global)

By Marshall Reid

In the wake of the Republic of Kiribati’s 2019 decision to switch diplomatic recognition from the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a wide range of commentators expressed concerns about the island’s shrinking international space. While such worries are certainly valid, Taiwan has been reduced to a mere 15 full diplomatic allies , mostly consisting of small, island nations.Taipei has nevertheless proven itself capable of expanding its diplomatic space through more limited, unofficial relationships.

This alternative approach to diplomatic partnerships has perhaps best been exemplified by Taiwan’s burgeoning relationship with the Republic of Somaliland. Since February 2020, when Taipei and Hargeisa signed an agreement allowing for the exchange of representative offices, ties between the two isolated republics have flourished. Despite considerable Chinese pressure and a challenging international environment, Taiwan and Somaliland have nevertheless managed to forge a productive partnership. In doing so, they may have both uncovered an alternative path toward broader international acceptance.

Contrasting collaborators

Separated by thousands of miles and possessing vastly different cultures, histories, and economies, Taiwan and Somaliland appear to have little in common. In spite of these contrasts, Taiwan and Somaliland have several notable parallels. Like Taiwan, Somaliland emerged in the aftermath of a devastating civil war, the ramifications of which continue to shape the nation’s political status. Since its declaration of independence from Somalia in 1991, Hargeisa has followed a path similar to that of Taipei, working to secure its existence in the shadow of a dangerous neighbor determined to absorb it.

While both Taiwan and Somaliland have proven relatively successful in this pursuit, they have nevertheless found themselves in difficult international positions. Excluded from the vast majority of international institutions and largely unrecognized by the global community, the two nations have been forced to accept de facto independence. Nevertheless, both Taipei and Hargeisa have become active participants in global affairs, consistently working on the periphery to secure what little cooperation they can.

Read more