Taiwan-Somaliland Relationship and the Geopolitical Competition in the Red Sea

In the first week of July, two self-governing territories, Taiwan (Republic of China) and Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, announced that they have established an official relationship with each other.[1] While announcing the news, Somaliland’s foreign ministry tweeted, ‘The Government of Somaliland identified issues of mutual concern, including building bridges of diplomacy; opening missions to boost political and socioeconomic links between the Republic of Somaliland and the Republic of China [Taiwan]’.[2] Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen also welcomed the announcement of the diplomatic relations and hoped to ‘expand mutually beneficial cooperation’.[3] The United States (US), which is a principal benefactor of Taiwan, has welcomed this new development which had taken place ‘in a time of such tremendous need’ and added that Taiwan ‘is a great partner in health, education, technical assistance, and more’.[4] The news is significant for both self-governing territories as they have been attempting to get wider diplomatic recognition for years. For Somaliland, the relationship with Taiwan will be helpful in expanding its overall international outreach whereas, for Taiwan, it is a much-needed diplomatic success since 2016 as many countries had switched from Taiwan to China in the last four years.[5] This latest development is significant for regional geopolitics as it adds another layer to the already intense rivalries in the Horn of Africa.

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