TAIPEI (CNA) — Somaliland is set to officially open its representative office in Taiwan in early September with a staff of five, the representative of the self-declared East African state to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, said Wednesday.
Mohamoud told a CNA reporter that work is still ongoing to set up the representative office in Taiwan and that it is expected to start operations by Sept. 9. The five employees include two Taiwanese who are yet to be recruited, along with two from Somaliland who arrived in Taiwan along with Mohamoud.
The representative revealed the plan on the sidelines of a seminar held by the Chinese International Economic Cooperation Association, Taiwan to allow Africa-based Taiwanese businessmen and African students studying in Taiwan to share their views on exploring trade opportunities in the continent.
It was the first event Mohamoud has attended since he arrived in Taiwan Aug. 7 and completed 14 days of mandatory COVID-19 quarantine.
Mohamoud described the relationship between Somaliland and Taiwan as “formal,” saying that this is evident because of a treaty signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries earlier this year to establish representative offices in each other’s countries.
High-ranking officials from the two countries also participated in an Aug. 17 ceremony to mark Taiwan’s opening of its representative office in the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa.
At present, the key issue is that neither Somaliland nor Taiwan is a member of the United Nations, according to Mohamoud.
The opening of the Taiwan representative office in Somaliland was the fulfillment of an agreement signed between the two sides in February, designed to pave the way toward enhanced bilateral cooperation.
However, the development has attracted the ire of both China, which sees Taiwan as its territory, and Somalia, which has a similar view of Somaliland.
Despite Chinese influence and pressure, however, Mohamoud said that Somaliland’s relationship with Taiwan will remain unaffected.
Establishing bilateral relations between Somaliland and Taiwan will benefit each side but will not threaten or damage other countries, he went on, describing Somaliland as an independent sovereign country and saying that other countries cannot dictate with whom “we are going to develop relations.”
Somaliland, which borders northwestern Somalia, declared independence from the latter in 1991 after a civil war.
It has set up 22 representative offices in several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Belgium and Switzerland, according to Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮).