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Taiwan aiming to open more representative offices in Africa: MOFA

02/29/2024 02:33 PM
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CNA file photo
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Taipei, Feb. 29 (CNA) The Taiwan government is examining the possibility of setting up new representative offices in Africa soon, following a suggestion by a lawmaker earlier in the week that such a move would have multilateral benefits, a senior foreign affairs official said Thursday.

Over the past eight years, Taiwan has established two new representative offices in Africa - in Somaliland in 2020 and the Ivory Coast in 2022 - bringing the total number on the continent to six, including an embassy in Eswatini, its one remaining African ally.

"We will continue to explore the possibility of establishing a new presence in major countries in different parts of Africa, while maintaining our ongoing efforts to build strong ties with Eswatini" and the other four countries in which Taiwan has offices, Chen Yung-po (陳詠博), deputy head of the Department of West Asian and African Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), told reporters at a press conference Thursday.

His comment followed Monday's launch of the Taiwan-African Countries Parliamentary Friendship Association in the Legislature, headed by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉), who said its purpose was to promote parliamentary and people-to-people exchanges between Taiwan and African countries.

To that end, the new legislative friendship group will seek to help Taiwan achieve the goal of setting up an additional four representative offices in Africa over the next four years, with a focus on central and northern African countries, Chiu said.

On Thursday, when asked to expand on the initiative, Chen told reporters it was part of the "Africa Project" that was launched by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in 2018 to help build closer exchanges with countries on the continent, but he did not give any further details.

Taiwan's current six representative offices in Africa are in Eswatini, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, South Africa, and Somaliland, which also has an office in Taipei.

Officially named the Republic of China, Taiwan previously had many more representative offices on the continent, as it had about a dozen formal diplomatic allies there, but since 2000, it has lost all its African allies, except Eswatini.

During the presidency of the DPP's Chen Shiu-bian (陳水扁) 2000-2008, Taiwan lost allies Liberia, Senegal, Chad, and Malawi to China.

When Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)of the Kuomintang was president 2008-2026, another African ally - The Gambia - severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and since outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016, Burkina Faso and the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe have switched sides.

It was reported in March 2023 that Taiwan was hoping to open a representative office in Ghana, but there has been no further information, and when asked Thursday about that report, Chen was noncommittal.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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