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The Gambia - PRC Relations

China and the Gambia established diplomatic relations on 14 December 1974. On July 13, 1995, the government and the Taiwan authorities resumed the so-called "diplomatic relations". On July 25, China announced the suspension of diplomatic relations with the Gambia. President Jammeh was fickle with his loyalties, changing them depending on who was providing the most assistance. He had a penchant for states that provide aid money with few or no strings attached. Taiwan was extremely generous to The Gambia and The Gambia in turn was a staunch proponent for recognition of Taiwan in international organizations including the UN and the World Health Organization.

China had been overtly expanding its influence in Africa to secure natural resources and develop trading partnerships that are essential to sustain China’s rate of economic growth. This expansion of economic influence has not occurred in a vacuum. China also continues to maintain efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically by pressuring China’s partners to relinquish ties to Taiwan. This has been almost universally successful in Africa, where The Gambia remained one of a small handful of nations to retain ties to Taiwan. Consequently, Taiwan has been enthusiastic about providing support to The Gambia on multiple fronts. Recent increases of military aid to The Gambia suggestrf Taiwan was concerned that China may attempt to isolate Taiwan from The Gambia. Taiwan has few friends in Africa.

On November 14, 2013, the Gambia announced that it had "broken off" with Taiwan. November 18, the Taiwan authorities announced since the date of the termination of Taigang "diplomatic relations." On March 17, 2016, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Gambia Foreign Minister Gay signed the Joint Communiqué between the People's Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of the Gambia on the resumption of diplomatic relations in Beijing, and the two countries resumed ambassadorial diplomatic relations since that date. "The Government of the Republic of Gambia recognizes that there is only one China in the world. The Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. The Government of the Government of the Gambia promised to have any official relations with Taiwan without any official contacts. The Government of the People's Republic of China appreciates the above position of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Gambia." China would offer its new African ally Gambia support in infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and other areas, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his visiting Gambian counterpart, after The Gambia ditched ties with Taiwan. Gambia ended formal relations with Taiwan in 2016. Gambia’s new government, which took over from former long-time leader Yahya Jammeh, pledged to continue relations with Beijing. Wang told Ousainou Darboe at a meeting in Beijing that China was ready “to enhance cooperation with Gambia in infrastructure, agriculture, tourism and other fields”, China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Tuesday, without giving details.

Chinese and French companies were bidding to help Gambia build up its Atlantic port of Banjul to be what industry sources say could be a rival to neighbouring Senegal’s Dakar. It would be one of the first major structural changes in Gambia following the end of Jammeh’s more than 20-year rule in January 2017. Wang said the resumption of diplomatic ties had not only brought bilateral relations back to the right track but also opened up broad prospects for cooperation, the foreign ministry said. Gambia would stick to the one-China policy, which asserts that Taiwan is part of China, and was looking forward to pragmatic cooperation with China in various fields.

State-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) says one of its subsidiaries has made a bid for a 140 million euro ($160 million) contract Gambia has launched to redevelop the port. France's Bollore Group has also submitted an offer to develop the port for hundreds of millions of dollars, and its representatives were part of a recent delegation of French investors to the country. The port was run by a state agency during Jammeh's rule. It is considered to have strategic potential thanks to its easy access to Atlantic shipping lanes. Upgrading the port will take 30-36 months to complete.

The capital city and chief port of The Gambia, Banjul (Island) was ceded by the King of Kombo on 23 April 1816 to Captain Alexander Grant, who immediately constructed houses and barracks there to help control the entrance to the Gambia estuary. Grant renamed the island St. Mary’s and called the new town Bathurst, in honor of Lord Henry Bathurst (1762–1834), the secretary of state for the colonies between 1812 and 1828. The streets were laid out in a modified grid pattern and named after the principal Allied generals at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). Bathurst thus became the center of British activity in the Gambia and the most populous part of the Colony. In April 1973, in keeping with its status as the capital of an independent African country, its name reverted to Banjul.

In 2003, Banjul had a population of 35,061. A quarter of its Gambian population was Wolof and a quarter was Mandinka/Jahanka. Because of overcrowding, its population has steadily migrated to the nearby mainland district of Kanifing (Bakau, Serrekunda, and Fajara) over several decades. Banjul’s population fell by 9,000 between 1983 and 2003, whereas Kanifing’s increased by more than 200,000 in the same period. However, Banjul remains the administrative center of the country, the seat of government, and The Gambia’s major port. It also remains the commercial and business center, although industrial activity is now concentrated in the Kanifing area.

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Page last modified: 04-08-2017 17:25:18 ZULU