Resumption of Diplomatic Relations Between China and The Gambia Leads to New Challenges for ROC

Resumption of Diplomatic Relations Between China and The Gambia Leads to New Challenges for ROC
Photo Credit:新華網

What you need to know

Before Taiwan president-elect Tsai Ing-wen officially takes office on May 20, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) announced the resumption of diplomatic relations with The Gambia on March 17. UDN News reports, this is not only a declaration of diplomatic tug-of-war, but also casts shadows on future cross-strait relations.

Translated and compiled by Shin-wei Chang

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC, Wang Yi, minister of Foreign Affairs, signed the Joint Communiqué with Neneh MacDouall Gaye, Yi’s counterpart of The Gambia on March 17. It says that The Gambia “recognizes that there is only one China in the world” and PRC government is “the sole legal government representing the whole of China.” Moreover, it says, “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.”

UDN News reports, the description of recognizing “One China” often appears in the Joint Communiqué between the PRC and its diplomatic allies to emphasize the representativeness and legitimacy of the PRC government.

President Ma Ying-jeou, who is visiting countries that have formal diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (ROC), says he is “strongly displeased” with this. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of ROC has also released a statement expressing its regret and promises to keep paying attention to the PRC’s actions.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) says it is aware of the news and “hopes there will not be a competition in the international community where the PRC and ROC target each other.”

Lu Kang, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC, said the time to resume diplomatic relations was decided after negotiations between the PRC and The Gambia. In addition, he said there are no official diplomatic relations between the ROC and The Gambia, and the resumption is not targeting anyone.

Challenges for the president-elect

Alexander Chieh-cheng Huang, associate professor of international affairs and strategic academic research at Tamkang University, says the resumption of diplomatic relations between the PRC and The Gambia shows the “multiple preparations” to tackle with the new political situation in Taiwan. Huang says that he is concerned about whether or not the PRC government would follow unilateralism to deal with future cross-strait relations.

Lin Chong-ping, former minister of National Defense of ROC, recognizes the resumption of the relations as a “gentle implication” between “doing nothing” and “declaration of diplomatic tug-of-war.” In addition, Lin regards it as a precaution and reminder for the president-elect Tsai Ing-wen.

Philip Yang, president of the Association of International Relations, says that in terms of cross-strait relations, the PRC implies that “it can definitely take action, but it chooses not to.” If Tsai does not make a clear statement of supporting the 1992 Consensus, Yang adds, the PRC might trigger a diplomatic tug-of-war and cut off all channels of communication with ROC.

ROC facing a domino effect of severing diplomatic relations?

Chen I-hsin, professor of US-China-Taiwan Relations at Tamkang University, says that The Gambia broke diplomatic ties with ROC three years ago. The PRC claims that there are five other nations having diplomatic relations with ROC waiting to establish diplomatic relations with PRC. The PRC says that if it were not for the basis of mutual trust between the PRC government and the Ma government, those nations would have chosen to support the PRC.

Moreover, Chen points out that after the rotation of political parties, the basis of mutual trust would disappear. As a result, there might be a wave of severing diplomatic relations with ROC after the new president takes office, and room for ROC to participate in international activities might be restrained.

Among the remaining 22 diplomatic allies of ROC, critics say it is most likely for the 12 Latin American nations to break relations with ROC first. Last year, the PRC invited all of ROC’s 12 diplomatic allies from Latin America to the China-CELAC Forum, of which eight of them accepted the invitation. Additionally, China is likely to gain support from ROC’s diplomatic allies by inviting them to the forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

Edited by Olivia Yang

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