Lessons must be learned from Gambia-Taiwan rift
By Joseph Yeh, The China Post
July 7, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The government watchdog Control Yuan issued a report this June that pointed fingers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), saying that it is partially responsible for the cutting of ties with Taiwan's former African ally last November.
The report compiled by Control Yuan members Chao Ron-yaw (趙榮耀) and Hung Teh-shuan (洪德旋) suggested that MOFA lacked alertness to detect signs before the African country announced its intention to sever ties with Taiwan.
For this the ministry should take partial blame for actions that ultimately led to the end of 18-year-long official diplomatic ties with The Gambia, the report said.
Once dubbed the closest friend to the R.O.C., Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who has visited Taiwan nine times, issued a statement on Nov. 15, 2013 saying that his country was ending diplomatic relations with Taiwan, citing "national strategic interest" as the reason.
"This decision has been taken in our strategic national interest. We are proud that we have been a very strong and reliable partner of the R.O.C. for the past 18 years, the results of which are there for every Taiwanese to see," the statement said.
"Despite the end of diplomatic ties with Taiwan, we will still remain friends with the people of Taiwan," it noted.
The Gambia's abrupt announcement came out of nowhere.
No Signs Beforehand?
At an emergency press conference held in Taipei following Jammeh's decision, Deputy Foreign Minister Simon Ko (柯森耀) admitted that Taiwan was extremely shocked and regretful over the decision.
Diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the African country have always remained strong and stable, Ko said, implying that the ministry had seen no signs beforehand that the ally would make such an announcement.
The news was so shocking that the ministry did not immediately accept the announcement or make clear whether Taiwan had officially cut off diplomatic relations with The Gambia.