Taiwan will continue strengthening ties with Somaliland. That’s the word from Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou on Tuesday.

Ou’s comments came following reports over China’s attempts to block Somaliland’s moves to grant Taiwan diplomatic recognition.

The East African state of Somaliland declared independence in 1991 after a civil war in Somalia. Although it does not have official diplomatic ties with any country, it has 20 representative offices in countries around the world. Countries and organizations, including the EU, the UK and the UN, maintain offices in its capital.

Ou said the alliance between Taiwan and Somaliland is based on shared values such as freedom and democracy and human rights. Ou also said the two sides are working on setting up representative offices in each other’s countries, and hope to do this by September.