0210: Taiwan Representative Office Act, Patriot Missile Support Deal, Lifting Japanese Food Ban Amid Taiwan’s CPTPP Bid

Bipartisan “Taiwan Representative Office Act” Introduced in Both Houses

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers proposed matching bills in the Senate and House of Representatives that would require the U.S. government to negotiate a name change of Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the U.S. to the “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO).

Taiwan’s mission in Washington is currently called the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO). According to Reuters, “should the measures [to rename TECRO to TRO] become law, any change in the office’s name could provide cover to smaller countries to take similar steps to boost engagement with Taiwan.”

On February 3, Republican Senator Marco Rubio (FL) and Democrat Senator Bob Menendez (NJ), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the “Taiwan Representative Office Act” (S.3573), while Republican representative John Curtis (UT) and his Democratic colleague Chris Pappas (NH) sponsored the House version (H.R.6578).

“[As] Beijing continues to seek to bully and coerce Taiwan, this important bill demonstrates the United States’ critical support for the people of Taiwan, and for Taiwan’s right, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, to determine its own future and to be able to enjoy greater respect and diplomatic space as a member of the international community,” Menendez said in a press release.

“I can think of no better way to recognize Taiwan’s contributions to global stability than by renaming their office in Washington, D.C., the seat of American democracy, to better reflect its actual purpose,” Rubio said.

“It is long overdue to correctly recognize the de facto embassy of our longtime friend and ally, Taiwan, as the Taiwan Representative Office,” Curtis said. “We shouldn’t tolerate pressure from China to undermine the sovereignty of the Taiwanese people, which China is also attempting to do by pressuring Lithuania and other countries.”

“As China continues to bully and intimidate Taiwan, this bipartisan legislation to properly recognize their de facto embassy demonstrates our continued support for the sovereignty of our democratic ally, Taiwan,” Pappas said. “We must take this step to strengthen our diplomatic partnership with Taiwan and counter China’s repeated attempts to threaten and coerce nations around the globe.”

On February 4, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked the U.S. Congress for its bipartisan support for Taiwan and the promotion of bilateral ties. The ministry will follow up developments of the bills and continue to work with both the U.S. administration and Congress to strengthen the partnership between the U.S. and Taiwan, MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou said.

[1] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/china/us-lawmakers-push-rename-taiwans-de-facto-embassy-washington-2022-02-04/
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202202040010

Taiwan Thanks U.S. for Approving Patriot Missile Support Deal

Taiwan thanked the United States after the Department of State approved a US$100 million sale of equipment and services to Taiwan to maintain and improve its Patriot air and missile defense system.

With the sale, the U.S. is honoring its commitment to support and boost Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities under the “Taiwan Relations Act” and the “Six Assurances,” Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said, while expressing its “sincere gratitude” for the deal. It also pledged that Taiwan would continue to enhance its security ties with the U.S. to preserve cross-strait and regional peace jointly.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement that the $100 million deal includes engineering services support and maintenance of the Patriot air defense system for five years, and that will help to sustain Taiwan’s “missile density” and ensure its “readiness for air operations.”

The sale “serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests” by supporting Taiwan’s “continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” DSCA said, adding that Taiwan “will use this capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen homeland defense.”

It was the second major arms sale to Taiwan since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021. The first one, in August 2021, was a US$750 million deal for 40 Paladin M109A6 self-propelled howitzers.

Amid increasing Chinese aggression, Taiwan will continue to improve its defensive capabilities and, through close security cooperation with the U.S., maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait and contribute to the long-term peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a separate statement.

China, however, strongly condemned the latest U.S. arms sale to Taiwan. “China will take appropriate and forceful measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and security interests,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters.

Asked what measures Beijing would take, Zhao replied: “I wish to ask everyone to wait and see.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202202080006
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/02/09/2003772795
[3] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/markets/us/us-approves-100-million-sale-taiwan-missile-upgrades-2022-02-07/

Taiwan will soon lift its blanket ban on food imports from Japan’s Fukushima and neighboring four prefectures, imposed after the nuclear disaster in 2011, as Taiwan seeks Tokyo’s support for joining a Japan-led Asia-Pacific trade pact.

At a news conference on February 8, Taiwan’s Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng announced that the policy change and new measures will take effect later in February. He added that many countries have relaxed similar prohibitions, “with only Taiwan and China [still] completely banning food imports from areas related to Fukushima.” Even Hong Kong and Macao had eased their restrictions, he said.

Taiwan should no longer “take discriminative measures against any countries without a scientific basis, including those targeting Japanese food,” Lo said. He added that “over the past 11 years, the Japanese government has gradually lowered the safety risks posed by food manufactured in these prefectures” by adopting food inspection standards that are even stricter than international practices. 

Taiwan’s decade-long ban on food from five Japanese prefectures is widely considered a major roadblock in the country’s attempt to join the Japan-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“As a trade-oriented country, Taiwan cannot disregard international standards and scientific evidence if it seeks to join the CPTPP. Japan — a signatory of the partnership — has for years shown concern over Taiwan’s regulatory practices regarding Japanese food products,” spokesman Lo said. 

“We, as a responsible government, must address reasonable demands from the Japanese government and resolve the issue,” Lo said. He added that Taiwan’s lifting of the ban would remove “unfair trade barriers” against Japan and would be helpful to Taiwan’s application to join the CPTPP.

Echoing Lo’s views, Taiwan’s top trade negotiator and Minister-without-Portfolio John Deng said that lifting the ban proves that Taiwan can accept the high standards set by CPTPP nations and that would be “very helpful” to Taiwan’s bid to join the transnational trade pact.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/02/09/2003772794
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202202080008
[3] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Taiwan-to-lift-blanket-ban-on-Fukushima-food-amid-CPTPP-push