0319: Taiwan Fellowship Act, Chinese Bullying Letter

Taiwan Fellowship Act Is Reintroduced to Deepen U.S.-Taiwan Ties

In a press release of March 10, Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), along with Reps. Ami Bera (CA-07) and Steve Chabot (OH-01), announced the reintroduction of the Taiwan Fellowship Act, which would establish “a fellowship exchange program for U.S. federal government employees in all three branches of government to learn, live, and work in Taiwan for a length of up to two years.”

If passed, the bill would allow fellows to spend their first year in Taiwan learning Mandarin Chinese and gaining knowledge about the people, history and political climate of Taiwan, as well as issues affecting the relationship between the United States and the Indo-Pacific region. In their second year, the fellows would work at a government agency or civic institution in Taiwan. No fewer than 5 fellows would be selected in each of the first two years of the program, and no fewer than 10 fellows would be selected in the ensuing years.

“The Taiwan Fellowship Act builds upon the U.S. strategic partnership with Taiwan’s vibrant democracy,” Sen. Markey said in the press release, adding that “While China seeks to isolate Taiwan from meaningful cooperation in tackling our global challenges, the swift passage of the Taiwan Fellowship Act would be a key step to signal that America is back, as committed as ever to our partnership with Taiwan, and reengaged in the Indo-Pacific region.”

“As Beijing continues to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, I’m proud to reintroduce this important bipartisan and bicameral effort,” said Sen. Rubio. “[The Act] would create a fellowship program in Taiwan for the continued expansion of our bilateral and cultural ties with Taipei. This program would be a great step in advancing U.S. efforts to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

The Taiwan Fellowship Act can have a profound impact on U.S.-Taiwan relations in the long run. As the U.S.-Taiwan official exchanges remain limited due to bureaucratic practices and pressure from the PRC, the Taiwan Fellowship program can be conducive to enhance mutual understanding between U.S. and Taiwanese governments at the working level. The potential legacy of this bill can be best illustrated by its precursor, the Mansfield Fellowship program, which has helped foster a closer U.S.-Japan alliance for the past three decades. 

References:

[1] Sen. Markey’s Website

[2] Focus Taiwan: U.S. legislators reintroduce Taiwan Fellowship Act


French Senators to Visit Taiwan Despite China’s “Wolf Warrior” Diplomacy

France’s foreign ministry said that the French legislators have the freedom to travel and meet with whomever they wish after news broke that Chinese ambassador to France had demanded a French senator not to visit Taiwan. Taiwan’s government also condemned China’s “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy, saying that it is a main source of tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

According to a recent report by French media, Chinese Ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, wrote a “scathing letter” to French Senator Alain Richard on February 18, asking him to cancel his plan to lead a parliamentary delegation to visit Taiwan this summer. Lu’s letter blasted Sen. Richard’s planned trip as a move violating the “One China Principle” and sending a wrong signal to “secessionists” supporting “Taiwan independence.” The letter added that “French senators should abide by this [One China] principle and refrain from any kind of official contact with the Taiwanese authorities.”

In response to Chinese ambassy’s “bullying” letter, French foreign ministry said March 17 that “French parliamentarians are free to make decisions about their own travel plans and contacts.” Meanwhile, Sen. Richard, who chairs the Senate’s France-Taiwan Friendship Group and had led delegations to Taiwan in 2015 and 2018, has informed the Chinese embassy that the group will continue to carry out the planned Taiwan visit and will not cancel their meetings with Taiwan’s officials.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked France for upholding freedom and democracy and supporting Taiwan. The ministry stressed that Taiwan is a sovereign State and has the right to engage with other countries. It condemned China’s efforts to suppress Taiwan’s international space, saying such efforts will only deepen the distaste the Taiwanese people feel for the Chinese government. MOFA adds that China’s aggressive “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy is not acceptable to any civilized country and is a main source of tensions between Taiwan and China.

References:

[1] Focus Taiwan: France defies Beijing over legislator’s planned visit to Taiwan

[2] Focus Taiwan: Taiwan condemns Chinese ambassador to France for bullying letter

[3] Taiwan News: French senator to visit Taiwan despite China’s warning

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