Monday, November 18, 2013

Is the diplomatic truce over? The Gambia incident

President Ma greets Jammeh in Taipei, June 26, 2012
Banjul announced last week that it was cutting ties with Taiwan. Was China behind the move, or was the despot who rules the West African country gambling? 

An air of uncertainty descended upon Taipei on November 14 when he tricolor Gambian flag was pulled down at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hours after rumors had emerged that Banjul had unilaterally severed ties with Taiwan. By day’s end, it was confirmed that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh had made the move to end nearly eighteen years of diplomatic relations. Taiwan reciprocated on November 18, leaving it with only three allies on the African continent, and 22 worldwide.

The setback — this was Taipei’s first loss of a diplomatic ally since Malawi cut ties in January 2008 and established relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) — immediately gave rise to speculation in Taipei as to whether the so-called “diplomatic truce” established between presidents Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan and Hu Jintao in China had come to an end. Under the informal truce, Taipei and Beijing had agreed to temporarily cease trying to steal each other’s diplomatic allies, often through “checkbook diplomacy,” as the two sides focused on improving bilateral ties.

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

No comments: