Taipei, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday reemphasized that Taiwan is not part of China and has every right to pursue relations with other countries, following Beijing’s criticism of the nation’s establishment of ties with Somaliland.

“Taiwan is willing to develop cooperation with any democratic and peace-loving countries under the spirit of mutual benefit and reciprocity. China’s criticism of Taiwan is not needed,” MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said during a regular press briefing.

Ou was responding to media questions following criticism by the government of Somalia, which considers Somaliland part of its territory, and by China, which views Taiwan in the same way.

Somalia’s presidential office, in a statement issued on July 4, said President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo denounced “Taiwan’s violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.”

Meanwhile, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said Monday during a press briefing in Beijing that China objects to the exchange of representative offices between Taiwan and Somaliland, and described Taiwan’s move as an attempt to promote secessionism.

“MOFA condemns the Chinese government’s disparagement of the sovereignty of Republic of China (Taiwan),” Ou said, reiterating that Taiwan is not part of China.

Taiwan will continue to further conduct “pragmatic diplomacy” and welcome any development of substantive relationships with like-minded countries, she added.

However, Ou did not directly respond to the accusations made by the Somalia government in her statement.

Somaliland, situated in East Africa, declared independence in 1991 after a civil war in Somalia. Although it is not recognized as a country by the international community, several countries and international organizations, including the United Nations, maintain offices there.

On July 1, Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced that Taiwan and Somaliland reached agreement in February to exchange representative offices.

Both sides recently named officials to head those offices, although the date of their official opening has not yet been announced.