News / Asia

China Looms as Taiwan Loses First Diplomatic Ally in 5 Years

Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Simon Shen-Yeaw Ko attends a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei on Gambia's decision, Nov. 15, 2013.
Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Simon Shen-Yeaw Ko attends a news conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei on Gambia's decision, Nov. 15, 2013.
Ralph Jennings
The Republic of the Gambia, a small nation in West Africa, has broken off diplomatic ties with Taiwan. It is the first country to do so since 2008. The move marks a worrying development for diplomatically isolated Taiwan, which has long struggled to forge such relationships because of opposition from China. 
 
The break comes despite relations marked by frequent high-level contact and Taipei’s help in a variety of areas, ranging from farming to military training.
 
Taiwan Foreign Ministry Political Deputy Minister Simon Ko told a news conference his government regrets The Gambia’s decision, but declined to speculate on the impact.
 
Ko expressed the Taiwan government’s shock and regret at The Gambia’s decision to break ties effective immediately, and added that the two sides had worked closely together over the past 18 years. Ko noted that it appears, at least so far, that the split is a result of a personal decision by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh.
 
The Gambia’s ambassador to Taiwan declined to speak to reporters.
 
Since the Chinese civil war ended in 1949, China has viewed Taiwan as part of its territory. Beijing refuses diplomatic relations with any nation that formally recognizes Taiwan.
 
Before Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou took office, China and Taiwan jockeyed for allies by offering countries money to switch allegiances. However, five years ago, Taipei and Beijing struck an agreement to stop the practice.
 
Since then, the two Asian neighbors have been working to ease tension and build trust. Beijing has sought to win over the Taiwanese public through deals aimed at boosting the island's economy.
 
Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University, in Taipei, thinks it’s too early to tell why The Gambia cut ties, but fears a dangerous shift may be underway.
 
 “We can’t say anything for now, because we have no direct proof it was done by the PRC [mainland China]. So I think it might be a paradigm change. We need to be very alert about it,” cautioned Huang.
 
Taipei’s remaining 22 allies are mostly poor nations in Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific. A breakdown of the diplomatic truce with China could see more countries switch their allegiance, which would likely threaten the newly created trade and investment links between Beijing and Taipei.

You May Like

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid