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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs