Tue, Nov 19, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan declares ties with the Gambia ‘terminated’

CASH GRAB?Gambian President Yahya Jammeh ‘made a financial request’ in January, said to be for US$10 million in cash, which went against Taiwan’s policy on foreign aid

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Gambia is proud of having been a very strong and reliable partner of Taiwan for the past 18 years and looked forward to have friendly dealings with Taiwan in the future, but declared the People’s Republic of China to be the only China it recognized diplomatically as the Gambia goes forward, Jammeh wrote in the posting.

“This decision has been taken in our strategic national interest in order to bring further opportunities and prosperity to Gambian citizens,” Jammeh said.

“This step will have concrete results in terms of advancing Vision 2020 for the Gambia, which as your President is my No. 1 priority,” he said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) asked the foreign minister how the government was able to claim that Beijing was not behind Jammeh’s decision when the Gambian leader had clearly suggested otherwise in his Facebook posting.

David Lin said the post did not mean that Jammeh’s administration had been in touch with China, but just expressed his expectations for the future.

“I can guarantee they had had no contacts with China. We have cross-checked with various sources and were sure that the case had nothing to do with China. China has had no role in the case so far,” the minister said.

However, David Lin said the ministry would pay close attention to see how the Gambia and China develop their relations.

Should China and the Gambia establish relations in the future, “it would surely be a very serious warning to us,” David Lin said.

The ministry has instructed its embassies in diplomatic allies to pay close attention to how their host countries react to the severance of ties between Taiwan and the Gambia, as well as to review and strengthen the implementation of bilateral cooperation programs to prevent a “domino effect,” he said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said that Ma’s diplomatic strategy had proven to be “essentially ‘kowtow diplomacy’ rather than ‘flexible diplomacy.’”

Citing Jammeh’s Facebook post, Huang said “the China factor” had proven to be the reason behind the change.

“That told us that the ‘flexible diplomacy’ was fake and that Ma’s description of cross-strait relations as ‘the best they have been in decades’ was also fake,” Huang said.

The TSU leader said the diplomatic change reflected Beijing’s two-handed strategy.

The timing of the Gambia’s move to sever ties, which came right after the third plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress, was “no coincidence,” Huang said, adding that he suspected that Beijing tried to apply pressure on Ma for passage of the cross-strait service trade agreement.

Meanwhile, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said Taipei will maintain its sister city ties with the Gambian capital, Banjul, despite Taiwan’s cutting diplomatic links.

He regretted the diplomatic ties had come to an end, but said Taipei and Banjul have maintained good relations since thet became sister cities in April 1997.

Taipei will maintain its relationship with Banjul as part of its efforts to promote city diplomacy, he told reporters.

Taipei has 46 sister cities in 32 countries.

Additional reporting by Chris Wang and CNA

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