Sat, Nov 16, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Gambia terminates ties with Taiwan

‘FLEXIBLE DIPLOMACY’:The government was left at a loss as to how to explain why Gambia cut diplomatic ties while insisting that relations were solid and cordial

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Jarjou told reporters he had not been informed of his government’s decision.

Asked what prompted Jammeh’s decision and what role China played, Wang cited Jammeh’s letter to Ma. In the letter, Jammeh said his country was happy to see a significant reduction in cross-strait tensions and that Taiwan-China relations are now at its best since 1994, when he became president of the Gambia, Wang aid.

In light of the major progress in cross-strait ties, the Gambia decided to take a “neutral” position toward the interactions between Taiwan and China, Wang quoted Jammeh’s letter to Ma as saying.

Wang said the ministry has not seen any sign of Chinese involvement in Jammeh’s decision.

“Unlike before, the Gambia did not sign a communique that it was establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing,” Wang said, adding that the ministry was “keeping vigilant” to see how the situation evolves.

The national flag of the Gambia was briefly taken down from the lobby of the ministry’s building, where an array of national flags of the country’s all diplomatic allies were displayed, but later put back up.

During the 40-minute meeting with Jarjou, Lin asked him to seek further details about Jammeh’s move and convey the “solemn position” of the ROC government to Jammeh, ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said.

Chen was instructed by the ministry to meet with Jammeh.

However, sources said that it was unlikely that Chen will see Jammeh anytime soon because the Gambian president is leaving for a summit with the heads of state in Asia and Africa next week.

Kao said the ministry would make an appropriate response to Jammeh’s decision “in line with the principle of maintaining our nation’s dignity” after the ministry conducts a thorough review of bilateral relations.

In the statement to the Gambia, the ministry said the ROC government expressed “shock” and “regret” about the immediate termination of bilateral ties.

Ma did not make any comment on the matter yesterday. The Presidential Office also maintained a low profile over the incident. The president met with Jiang briefly in the morning to discuss the matter and then attended a scheduled event in the Presidential Office later.

On Wednesday, during a meeting with an accountants’ association at the Presidential Office, Ma even lauded the Gambia for making donations to Taiwan in the wake of Typhoon Morakot, apparently unaware of Jammeh’s plan to end diplomatic ties.

Amid concerns about the possibility of the Gambia establishing ties with China, the Mainland Affairs Council said it was important for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to maintain mutual trust and positive interactions to promote cross-strait development.

“The two sides should cherish the fruitful results of cross-strait interactions and not damage the mutual trust that took years to build, so that cross-strait relations will continue to make progress,” the council said.

Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih

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