By Modou S. Joof
Reoprts in Beijing have indicated that China had “no contact” with The Gambia prior to the severing of ties with Taiwan on Thursday.
Xinhua news agency quoted China’s Foreign Mninistry spokesman Hong Lei as saying: “We learned the news from foreign media reports. There was no contact between China and Gambia.”
China’s reaction comes at the back of foreign media reports suggesting Gambia may have been pressured by China to break off ties with Taiwan.
Mr Lei told a daily news briefing that “there is only one China in the world”while claiming that adherence to the one-China principle is a common understanding of the international community.
“Supporting China to realize peaceful reunification is the general trend of the times,” Lei is quoted as saying on Friday.
The Gambia is yet to make public its supposed re-establishment of ties with mainland China.
Gambia will remain friends with Taiwanese
The Gambia cut diplomatic ties with Taipei on November 14 citing “strategic national interest”, one month after its shock exit of the Commonwealth of Nations calling it a ‘neo-colonial institution’.
President Jammeh’s Office, State House, said: “This decision [severing of ties] has been taken in our strategic national interest.” Diplomatic relations with Taiwan began in July 1995, and had span for a little over 18 years.
“Despite the end of diplomatic ties with Taiwan, we will still remain friends with the people of Taiwan,” the presidency said in Banjul, the Gambian capital.
“We are proud that we have been a very strong and reliable partner of the Republic of China [Taiwan] for the past 18 years, the results of which are there for every Taiwanese to see,” it added.
Taiwan expresses shock and regret
On November 15 Taiwan’s Vice Foreign Minister express shock and regret and blames Gambian President Yahya Jammeh of taking the decision unilaterally, saying “Jammeh has his personal style.”
“Our government express shock and regret that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh sent a letter to our embassy in Gambia on November 14 to inform us the immediate termination of ties,” Vice Foreign Minister Simon Ko is quoted as saying in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan.
“Jammeh has his personal style and we think this is Jammeh’s personal decision,” Ko said, but he did not respond to questions on whether China was pressuring Gambia to sever ties with Taiwan, according to media reports.
The Gambia’s national flag was taken down from the head office of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) after the West African state announced it is cutting diplomatic ties with their Asian counterpart.
Taipei will seek to resume diplomatic ties
Local media reports in Taiwan say Gambian Ambassador to the Republic of China [Taiwan], Alhaji Ebrima N.H. Jarjou, said early Friday that he has not been informed of his government’s decision to cut diplomatic relations with Taiwan as reported via foreign wire.
Taiwan’s Premier Jiang Yi-huah has said Taipei will seek to resume diplomatic ties with Gambia if possible, but will examine whether there was any connection between Gambia’s decision and its recent interaction with several European Union countries, according to reports.
Taiwan has pumped millions of US dollars into Gambia’s health, education, agriculture and infrastructure sectors, while Gambia has supported Taiwan’s bid for United Nations recognition over the years.
In recent years, mainland China has won over majority of countries in Africa, a continent still dwindling in poverty and hunger blamed on bad leadership, by pumping in billions of US dollars in several development projects especially in infrastructure.
In Africa, Burkina Faso, Sao Tome and Principe and Swaziland are the only remaining countries among 22 in the world that have diplomatic ties with Taiwan, a country that broke-away from mainland China in 1949 following a civil war.
China maintains Taiwan remains a part of its territory.