News / Asia

    China Relations with The Gambia Raises Concerns in Taiwan

    China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hand with his Gambian counterpart Neneh Macdouall-Gaye during a meeting in Beijing, China, March 17, 2016.
    China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hand with his Gambian counterpart Neneh Macdouall-Gaye during a meeting in Beijing, China, March 17, 2016.
    Ralph Jennings

    A small West African country’s establishment of relations with China this month is raising concern in Taiwan of a new fight to retain its few diplomatic allies around the world and exert international influence.

    The Gambia’s announcement March 17 that it had set up diplomatic ties with China prompted anger from Taiwan’s government and president-elect. They worry that an informal truce has ended with Beijing.

    The Gambia had cut ties with Taiwan, one of the world’s most isolated democracies, in November 2013, leaving the Asian island with just 22 formal diplomatic relations.

    China has more than 170 allies and uses them to stop Taiwan from pursuing international relations, including participation in United Nations. Since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, Beijing’s Communist government has viewed Taiwan as part of China rather than a state entitled to form ties with foreign countries.

    Taiwan looks to its remaining allies, mostly poor countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific, as a voice in the United Nations and as evidence of legitimacy for Taiwan’s government, known as the Republic of China, or ROC.

    FILE - Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen waves to her supporters after her election victory at party headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 16, 2016.
    FILE - Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen waves to her supporters after her election victory at party headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, Jan. 16, 2016.

    The Gambia squabble will put Taiwan on guard again, said Eleanor Wang, spokeswoman for the island’s foreign ministry.

    “For Gambia to decide to set up ties with mainland China, our side expresses regret,” Wang said. “The foreign ministry will keep stepping up its work with the outside world. As for mainland China’s actions to exert pressure, all foreign ministry and overseas representative offices will continue to be on alert, pay rapt attention and protect our country’s interests effectively.”

    Since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, Taipei and Beijing set aside political disputes, including so-called "check diplomacy," the competition for alliances with poorer countries by raising each other's development aid pledges.  

    Since checkbook diplomacy ended, the two sides have opened landmark dialogue and signed 23 agreements linked to tourism, trade and investment.

    The establishment of Beijing’s ties with The Gambia comes about two months before Ma must step down due to term limits and hand the presidency to Tsai Ing-wen, who won Taiwan's January election.

    Tsai leads a party with a history of poor China relations, and officials in Beijing have called on her to uphold the conditions for two-way dialogue embraced by the current Taiwanese leadership. Tsai rejects those conditions, which require each side to see itself as part of China, but subject to different interpretations.

    Last week China asked The Gambia to acknowledge “one China,” namely the sole legitimacy of the Beijing government. That nod precludes any relations with Taiwan.

    The Gambia broke ties with Taiwan without jumping immediately to China as countries did before 2008. The break was described then as a personal decision by Yahya Jammeh, president of the West African country of 1.8 million people.

    FILE - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh
    FILE - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh

    Joanna Lei, chief executive officer of the Chunghua 21st Century Think Tank in Taiwan, said China used The Gambia as a soft signal of what might come after Tsai takes office May 20.

    “Now that the truce is no longer in effect – we can’t say it’s completely over, but it’s not completely in effect – they picked a country that would not diminish the number of diplomatic relations with the ROC while effectively [not] renew[ing] a relationship to indicate what might come if after the May 20 [inauguration] speech [is] not clear in terms of the ‘One-China’ policy,” Lei said.

    She estimates that five or six other countries now allied with Taiwan are eyeing a shift to China if allowed. China’s allies may get more access to the giant Chinese market rather than Taiwan’s much smaller one.

    Tsai is expected to protest any new diplomatic quarrels after taking office but may not directly confront Beijing over the broader issue. She will wait for China to gauge how angry it wants to make the Taiwanese public by buying off small countries, said Hsu Yung-ming, a political scientist with Soochow University in Taipei.

    Taiwan also has strong informal relations, particularly economic links with the United States, Japan and countries in Europe.

    “She won’t open a competition with China on foreign diplomacy,” Hsu said. “She will instead observes people’s reactions and take a calm attitude. So it’s China that will judge whether these actions toward Taiwan’s diplomatic allies are causing a backlash among Taiwanese people and even whether there’s a negative impact on future cross-Strait relations.”

    You May Like

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora