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Gambia-Taiwan relations not chequebook diplomacy - SG Bah

Dec 30, 2011, 1:49 PM | Article By: Nfamara Jawneh

The Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service has stressed that the relationship between the Gambia and Taiwan is not one of chequebook diplomacy, but  is a diplomacy based on values and mutual respect and interests.

Chequebook diplomacy is considered as an international policy openly using economic aid and investment between countries to carry out diplomatic favour.
Dr Njogu Bah made the remarks on Wednesday at the luxurious Coco Ocean Hotel in Bijilo at a welcome reception organised by the Embassy of the Republic of China on Taiwan for the new Taiwanese ambassador to The Gambia H.E. Samuel Chen.

“The Gambia is your home away from home. Our doors are open to you, and we are ever willing to collaborate in strengthening the existing relations,” he said.

“Your predecessor, ambassador Shih, and previous ambassadors have indeed strengthened the ties between our two countries.  We have no doubt that with the wealth of experience you have our relations will be further strengthened,” Dr Bah told Taiwan’s new chief diplomat in Banjul.

Over the years, he continued, the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has significantly complemented The Gambia’s efforts in developing its economy and human resource base, for the ultimate achievement of the country’s development aspirations.

These are more notable in agriculture, health, education, and infrastructure development, which are key priorities of the Gambia government, he added.

“On behalf of H.E the President, government and people of The Gambia I assure you that we will vigorously continue to support Taiwan’s efforts at all levels, in achieving her aspirations,” he continued.

Dr. Bah recalled the donation of $700,000 by the Gambia to Taiwan in 2009 for its disaster victims.

He said that denying Taiwan from participating fully in certain UN agencies is a way of denying millions of people around the world the expertise that they could offer to these people.

“Taiwan must assume its rightful position in the international community,” Dr Bah declared.

The reception was attended by top diplomats in the country, cabinet ministers, National Assembly members and other senior government officials.

Dr Bah was speaking on behalf of Dr Momodou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad.

In his speech, Ambassador Chen said: “It is indeed a great honour for me to be accredited ambassador extra-ordinary of the Republic of China on Taiwan to The Gambia”.

He assured all that while in the country he would be working closely with the Gambia government, to strengthen the already cordial bilateral ties between Banjul and Taipei.

“Since our arrival on 8th December 2011, we have already begun to enjoy the warm welcome and hospitality of the Gambian people,” said the new Taiwanese envoy.

According to him, before his appointment as new ambassador to The Gambia, he worked with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan as Director General of African Affairs.

“Last year, I had the opportunity to accompany the Speaker of our Legislative Yuan to The Gambia to attend the July 22nd anniversary,” he recalled.

He said that over the years, the two countries have maintained good bilateral cooperation in areas such as health, education, agriculture and infrastructure development.

Ambassador Chen used the occasion to acknowledge the support being rendered to his country by The Gambia, in their quest to seek for more space in the international arena. Taiwan, he said, highly cherishes its relations with The Gambia.

He finally reassured the government and people of The Gambia of his resolve in strengthening the relations between the two countries.

The Nigerian High Commissioner to The Gambia and dean of the diplomat corps, Madam Asther Awudu, welcomed their new colleague.

“You have come to join a small but vibrant diplomatic community,” she said, while urging her new colleague to remain alert.

Ambassador Chen replaced Ambassador Richard Shih, whose three-and-a-half year tour of duty in The Gambia ended in November 2011.

It would be recalled that President Yahya Jammeh once also said: “The Gambia will never turn its back on Taiwan. “We will never betray you no matter what.”