0122: Taiwan Representative Attending Biden’s Inauguration, Blinken’s Comments on Taiwan

Formal Invitation of Taiwan Representative to Biden’s Inauguration Marks First Time Since 1979

Taiwan’s Representative to the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, attended President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, making her Taiwan’s first representative to receive a formal invitation to a U.S. presidential inauguration since the two countries severed ties in 1979. 

Hsiao was officially invited by the U.S. Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) to attend the 59th Presidential Inauguration Ceremony of the United States. The invitation came after former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the lifting of restrictions on contact between U.S. and Taiwanese officials. In previous presidential inaugurations, Taiwanese representatives have been invited as guests of U.S. congressional members or organizations.

In a video clip posted on Twitter, Hsiao said she was honored to attend the event on behalf of “the people and government of Taiwan,” adding that she looks forward to working with the Biden administration to advance the mutual values and interests of Taiwan and the U.S.

Observers in Taiwan regard the formal attendance of a Taiwanese delegation at a U.S. presidential inauguration as an important gauge of US-Taiwan relations, due to the complicated US-Taiwan-China tripartite relations.

Lai I-chung of the Prospect Foundation, commented that the official invitation extended to Hsiao shows that the worry that Taiwan-US relations could deteriorate under Biden “is not likely to happen.” Echoing Lai’s view, Taiwan Thinktank researcher, Tung Li-wen considered that this historic invitation serves as an evidence that the US-Taiwan relations will continue to be elevated under Biden.

FAPA appreciates the landmark invitation of Representative Hsiao to the presidential inauguration and advocates for continued cooperation between U.S. and Taiwan.

Sources: Focus Taiwan [1], [2]

The U.S. Needs to Ensure Taiwan’s Ability to Defend Itself: Blinken

The U.S. will uphold its commitment to ensure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself against Chinese aggression, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said during his Senate confirmation hearing on January 19. He warned that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be a “grievous mistake,” and added that the U.S. hopes to see Taiwan play a “greater role” in international organizations.

During his hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Blinken said that the United State’s “strong and long-standing bipartisan commitment to Taiwan” will “absolutely endure” in a Biden administration. He described Taiwan as a “model democracy” and “technological powerhouse” while praising its successful containment of COVID-19.

When asked by Senator Lindsey Graham if the U.S. will continue to “guarantee Taiwanese democracy,” Blinken replied that the U.S. needs to ensure that “Taiwan has the ability to defend itself against aggression.” Regarding the prospect of China using military force against Taiwan, Blinken replied: “That would be a grievous mistake on their part.”

Blinken added that the U.S. would like to see Taiwan “playing a greater role around the world, including in international organizations.” “When those organizations don’t require the status of a country to be a member, they should become members. When it does, there are other ways that they can participate,” he said.

Blinken’s comments were well received by Taiwan’s government. His supportive remarks “show the Biden administration’s pro-Taiwan position,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Joanne Ou told Newsweek on Wednesday.

Sources: Newsweek, Focus Taiwan