Background Information No. 114
The Gambian newspaper The Point published two editorials on November 18 concerning the severing of diplomatic relations between the Republic of The Gambia and the Republic of China (ROC). One takes a look, from the perspective of the Gambian people, at the accomplishments of the numerous projects that the ROC has undertaken to assist The Gambia. It also expresses sincere thanks to the ROC for its help over so many years. The second editorial questions the real reasons behind the Gambian government’s termination of relations with the ROC and asks President Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh to explain to his people what he meant by “strategic national interest.” The editorial makes the following points:
1. “Gambians and the rest of the world were taken by surprise … when the Office of the President announced that the country was severing ties with the Republic of China.” It also points out that people have been left wondering why the close bilateral relations had ruptured.
2. “[R]elations between The Gambia and Taiwan have developed since 1995, a year after President Yahya Jammeh took over the mantle of leadership of this country,” and that a joint communiqué was issued, cementing bilateral cooperation, when ROC President Ma Ying-jeou visited in April 2012. It further states that, “According to the communiqué, President Jammeh commended President Ma for his remarkable achievements in pursuing a policy of viable diplomacy, which has greatly reduced tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and brought peace and prosperity that the whole world could enjoy.” Moreover, “President Ma recognized President Jammeh’s great efforts in developing The Gambia and promoting the welfare of the Gambian people, and took the opportunity to express his gratitude to the Government of the Republic of The Gambia for its staunch support for the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan).” In addition, “President Jammeh also expressed his appreciation for the assistance extended by Taiwan to The Gambia in agriculture, health, education, human resources, infrastructure and other areas of national development.”
3. “[T]hings seem to have fallen apart” and, since the Gambian government said its decision was based on the country’s strategic national interest, “the Gambian people would definitely need more explanation for this action.” This, it goes on, is especially true now that “the air is thick with news and comments, in both the local and international media, of what might have led to this action by our government.” The editor then urges the government to convene a press conference through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to tell the people what exactly went wrong, and why The Gambia severed ties with the ROC for, “without such information, people will continue to speculate and draw their own conclusions.”
The Point editorials:
●Gambia: Recalling the beneficial Gambia-Taiwan relationship
●Gambia-Taiwan ties—What really went wrong?