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China has reacted with hostility after a high-level delegation from the Republic of Somaliland attended Taiwan’s Presidential inauguration ceremony in Taipei. Its embassy in Somalia issued a strident statement, revealing inconsistencies in Beijing’s stance on the matter. The remarks from the Chinese Embassy reiterated China’s commitment to the “one-China principle” regarding Taiwan, likely sanctioned by China’s Foreign Ministry.

However, the embassy’s claims of unified global support for China’s position were contradicted by the reality of Taiwan maintaining robust ties with many nations including the with the United States and European countries. These relationships persist despite Beijing’s frequent condemnations and warnings regarding engagement with the island nation it claims as its own territory.

The statement targeted the Somaliland delegation’s presence at the inauguration ceremony in Taiwan on May 20. Although the Republic of Somaliland declared itself an independent nation after regaining independence from Somalia in 1991, it remains unrecognized internationally. Despite this lack of recognition, the Republic of Somaliland has maintained a stable democracy for 33 years and is considered a beacon of democracy in the region.

Domestically, the bilateral ties between the Republic of Somaliland and Taiwan have sparked debate , with the Waddani opposition party questioning the wisdom of siding with Taiwan over China and advocating for improved relations with China instead.

Following the Chinese Embassy’s statement, a response left by Waddani Chairman Dr. Abdirahman Abdillahi Cirro’s official account simply said “ok,” sparking widespread discussion and speculation about its meaning and the party’s position on the matter.

In a stance seemingly contradicting reality on the ground and the Republic of Somaliland’s sovereign status, China insisted that the “Federal Government of Somalia” is the sole authority with jurisdiction over the Republic of Somaliland, considering it part of Somalia’s territory. This directly undermines the Republic of Somaliland’s self-declared independence aspirations, which China fears could embolden Taiwan’s independence movement.

In 2020, the Republic of Somaliland and Taiwan established formal bilateral ties, drawing immediate, forceful condemnation from Beijing as an infringement on its territorial claims. China attempted to sway the Republic of Somaliland away from Taiwan with promises of development aid and investment from a high-level delegation. However, when those overtures failed, Beijing shifted to a “hostile stance” toward the region, according to multiple reports.

Immediately following the establishment of bilateral ties between Somaliland and Taiwan, Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi rejected an offer from a Chinese delegation that included a conditional development package. The offer, which proposed infrastructure projects in exchange for Somaliland severing its diplomatic ties with Taiwan, was declined. Instead, President Bihi reaffirmed Somaliland’s commitment to strengthening its relationship with Taiwan. This move was seen as prioritizing Somaliland’s strategic interests and diplomatic independence over China’s economic incentives.

“China’s aggressive tactics to isolate Taiwan and pressure the Republic of Somaliland are counterproductive and alarming,” said U.S. Congressman Mike Smith, echoing US government concern concerns over Beijing’s coercion and confrontation approach in international diplomacy.

While the Taiwanese government has yet to officially respond, it has indicated it will continue its policy of pursuing relations with the dwindling number of entities that recognize it diplomatically, including the Republic of Somaliland.

The harshly-worded statement from China’s Somalia embassy, likely reflecting a stance sanctioned by Beijing, underscores China’s erratic behavior as it seeks to restrict Taiwan’s engagement globally. This has included issuing threats and staging provocative military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, even over routine diplomatic visits and meetings.

As China intensifies its stance on Taiwan’s sovereignty claims, its extreme rhetoric and actions from its embassies and Foreign Ministry risk inflaming tensions and further alienating it on the international stage, analysts say. Its opposition to the Republic of Somaliland’s outreach to Taiwan demonstrates an unwillingness to embrace geopolitical reality, which could destabilize the broader region.

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