0602: U.S.-Taiwan Trade Initiative; Duckworth’s Visit to Taiwan; Japanese View on Taiwan Emergency; Statements on Laguna Woods Shooting

Taiwan and U.S. Launch New Initiative to Deepen Economic Ties and Negotiate Trade Agreements

On June 1, Taiwan and the United States launched a new bilateral trade initiative to boost their economic and trade relationship in the hope of eventually leading to “high-standard” agreements, signaling a breakthrough after Taiwan was excluded from a U.S.-led regional economic framework.

At a press conference held in Taipei, Taiwan’s top trade negotiator John Deng announced the launch of the “U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade,” shortly after completing a virtual meeting with Deputy United States Trade Representative (USTR) Sarah Bianchi.

At the same time, the USTR issued a press release saying the initiative “is intended to develop concrete ways to deepen the economic and trade relationship, advance mutual trade priorities based on shared values, and promote innovation and inclusive economic growth for our workers and businesses.”

Taiwan and the U.S. will work to “develop an ambitious roadmap for negotiations for reaching agreements with high-standard commitments and economically meaningful outcomes,” the release said.

These potential agreements would fall short of a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) or a free trade agreement (FTA), since no tariff-related issues will be discussed, said Deng, who is also a minister without portfolio.

Instead, the two sides will focus their negotiations on 11 areas, such as trade facilitation, regulatory practices, agricultural trade, standards, environmental regulations, state-owned enterprises, non-market policies and practices, and anti-corruption. Negotiations could be expanded to include other issues in the future, Deng added.

Describing the new initiative as “a historic breakthrough” in bilateral trade ties between Taiwan and the U.S., Deng said the results of negotiations under the initiative will establish a foundation for the two sides to negotiate a free trade agreement, something Taiwan’s government has long expressed an interest in signing.

At the same time, Taiwan will continue looking for ways to take part in the U.S.-led “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” (IPEF), which was launched on May 23 by President Joe Biden and currently includes 14 participating countries.

Taiwan was excluded from the IPEF, although more than 250 bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress had recently called for its inclusion.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202206010027
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/06/02/2003779204
[3] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/05/20/2003778502

Sen. Duckworth: U.S. Congressional Support for Taiwan’s Security Tremendous

There is tremendous and bipartisan support from U.S. lawmakers for Taiwan’s security, visiting U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said in Taipei on May 31.

“So, I’m here this time to again, talk about our support for Taiwan security,” said Duckworth, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, during a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen at the Presidential Office.

“There’s tremendous support for Taiwan within the [U.S.] legislative branch,” she said.

Duckworth visited Taiwan for a second consecutive year after stopping over for a day in June 2021 with fellow senators Dan Sullivan and Chris Coons.

The senator’s three-day visit to Taiwan also came four days after she introduced the “Strengthen Taiwan’s Security Act” (S.4331), which she earlier said would “strengthen our support for Taiwan and provide it with the tools it needs to protect itself from any unwarranted attack.”

According to Duckworth’s press statement, the bill would “assess opportunities to deliver lethal aid to Taiwan, enhance Taiwan’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and increase needed prepositioned stocks in the region.”

Duckworth noted that the bill has received bipartisan support, with two other Democrats and three Republican senators being the bill’s co-sponsors.

The U.S. cooperation with Taiwan is not limited to security issues but also includes economic affairs, Duckworth added.

Meanwhile, President Tsai said Taiwan looks forward to forging closer and deeper ties with the U.S. on matters of regional security. Taiwan would also continue to express its willingness to participate in the U.S.-led “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” (IPEF), Tsai added.

The meeting between Duckworth and Tsai came a day after China made its second-largest incursion into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) this year, with Taiwan reporting 30 Chinese military aircraft entering the area, including more than 20 fighter jets.

Last week, the U.S. accused China of raising tensions over Taiwan, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken specifically mentioning Chinese aircraft incursions as an example of “increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202205310005
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2022/06/01/2003779132

Poll: 90% of Japanese Feel Japan Needs to Prepare for Taiwan Emergency

The approval rating of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet has reached 66% in the latest Nikkei survey, the highest since it was sworn in last October.

On Kishida’s recent summit in Japan with U.S. President Joe Biden, where both leaders affirmed the need to strengthen deterrence with China in mind, 61% of respondents expressed support, far outnumbering the 21% in opposition. 

On how to handle a Taiwan emergency, 50% of respondents said Japan should prepare as much as possible within the scope of current law, while 41% said Japan should improve its responsiveness, including through legislative revisions. Together, these responses exceeded 90%. Only 4% saw no need to prepare for such an emergency.

The survey was conducted by Nikkei Research from May 27–29, using random-digit dialing to target men and women 18 and older. It drew 935 respondents, for a response rate of 41.4%.

[1] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Kishida-s-approval-rating-peaks-after-Biden-summit-Nikkei-poll

Taiwanese American Organizations Issue Joint Statement Urging the FBI, State Department and Congress to Take Resolute Action in Light of Laguna Woods Church Shooting

On May 26, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a domestic terrorism bill that had cleared the House on May 18. This comes after the mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York on May 14, at a Taiwanese Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods, California on May 15, and a massacre of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas on May 24.

These mass shootings mark a watershed moment in the Taiwanese American community’s long-term fight for freedom and democracy.

FAPA and other Taiwanese American organizations were united and issued a joint statement, calling on the FBI, the State Department and Congress to take resolute action. They urge –

  1. – the Federal Bureau of Investigation to list the China-controlled “National Association for China’s Peaceful Unification” (NACPU) as a domestic terrorist organization and investigate its actions as a foreign agent — actions that enable hate violence and Chinese propaganda;
  2. – the State Department to demand accountability from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for the terrorist actions of its foreign missions and agents; and
  3. – members of Congress to call more attention to the fact that the Chinese government is actively sponsoring and directing the radicalization of pro-China groups and individuals in the U.S. to the point where Taiwanese American citizens are targeted simply for their heritage, identity, and political beliefs.

On May 20, the North American Taiwanese Professors’ Association (NATPA) also issued a statement on Laguna Woods church shooting, calling for peace and for attention to the hate crime imposed on innocent American citizens.

[1] Joint Taiwanese American Organizations’ Full Statement (May 27): https://fapa.org/taiwanese-american-organizations-urge-taking-resolute-action/
[2] NATPA’s Full Statement (May 20): https://natpa1980.blogspot.com/2022/05/statement-on-laguna-woods-church.html