0604: Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act, Chinese Intrusion into Malaysia’s Airspace, U.S.-Taiwan Trade Agreement

“Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act” Introduced in House

On May 28, Rep. Brad Sherman and Taiwan Caucus co-chair Rep. Steve Chabot jointly introduced the “Taiwan Diplomatic Review Act” (H.R.3634) in the House, joined by the three other Caucus co-chairs Reps. Gerry Connolly, Mario Diaz-Balart, Albio Sires and by Rep. Ken Buck. 

The Act will adjust three elements of U.S. policy towards Taiwan to lend more dignity and respect to the 23 million people of U.S. long-time ally Taiwan:

  1. It renames Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the United States from Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) to Taiwan Representative Office (TRO). Note that referring to Taiwan as “Taiwan” is consistent with longstanding U.S. policy. We therefore have the “TAIWAN Relations Act,” “TAIWAN Travel Act,” etc., and an “American Institute in TAIWAN” (AIT).
  2. It requires the President of United States to appoint the Director of the “American Institute in Taiwan” with the advice and consent of the Senate. Currently, the AIT is the only one of three wholly U.S. government-funded “non-government” organizations whose directors are not subject to Senate confirmation. The appointments of chiefs of the other two, the “Millennium Challenge Corporation” and the “National Endowment for Democracy,” both require Senate advice and consent.
  3. It creates a new visa category only for Taiwanese officials in the United States. Currently, the U.S. does not issue diplomatic visas to Taiwanese officials and diplomats, who instead receive “investor visas.” The new visa category is beneficial for Taiwanese representatives in the U.S. and also encourages closer government ties between U.S. and Taiwan officials.

Overall, the Act would ensure that Taiwan’s official representatives here are accorded the dignity they deserve and strengthen congressional oversight over Taiwan policy.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202105290004
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/05/30/2003758279

Malaysia to Summon China’s Ambassador over Chinese Intrusion into Malaysian Airspace

On June 1, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said in a statement that he would summon China’s ambassador in the country to provide explanation regarding a “breach of the Malaysian airspace and sovereignty” by 16 Chinese military aircraft.

“In addition, I will also relay Malaysia’s serious concern on the matter to my counterpart in China,” Hishammuddin said. “Malaysia’s stand is clear – having friendly diplomatic relations with any countries does not mean that we will compromise our national security. Malaysia remains steadfast in defending our dignity and our sovereignty.”

Hishammuddin’s statement followed an earlier announcement by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) that 16 Chinese warplanes flying in a “tactical formation” intruded into Malaysia’s airspace near the Malaysian-administered Luconia Shoals before approaching the James Shoal.
Both of these two maritime features in the South China Sea are claimed and disputed by Malaysia and China. After several failed attempts to contact the Chinese planes, the Malaysian air force scrambled fighter jets to intercept and identify them.

Over the past year, Chinese military flyovers have increasingly seen not just in the South China Sea, but near Taiwan as well. There, Chinese sorties have frequently intruded into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), threating the peace and stability in the region.

As China continues to push the envelope—near Malaysia by sending an unprecedented number of jets in a potentially hostile formation, and near Taiwan by constantly intruding its ADIZ—states in the East Asia Pacific region need to formulate new policy on how to best respond.

Ongoing China’s territorial disputes with various states around the South China Sea, as well as ever-present Chinese aggression against Taiwan, mean that without a unified or strong response from neighboring and allied countries, Chinese incursions may become even more frequent and aggressive.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/06/03/2003758510
[2]: Defense News: https://www.defensenews.com/global/asia-pacific/2021/06/01/china-sends-16-military-aircraft-over-disputed-south-china-sea-shoals-near-malaysia/

As Global Supply Chain Being Reshaped, a U.S.-Taiwan Trade Agreement Would Be Timely and Beneficial

Taiwan’s sizeable semiconductor industry looks to be a potential conduit for increased international economic ties, as a worldwide shortage of the technologically crucial component has led many states to seek greater access or control to the supply chain. 

On June 1, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) began construction on a new 5-nanometer factory in Arizona. A recent proposal in the U.S. Congress to invest $54 billion of subsidies to domestic semiconductor production means that TSMC could potentially receive some of the funds, which would in turn strengthen the shared industrial and economic ties between the U.S. and Taiwan.

The global semiconductor market has skyrocketed in value since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with Taiwan producing over half the world’s supply, the moment is opportune for negotiating and signing investment or trade agreements to boost greater economic ties between Taiwan and tech partners like the U.S. and EU.

Earlier this month, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen expressed a desire for a stronger EU-Taiwan bilateral investment agreement, centered around the EU’s rapidly growing need for semiconductors and Taiwan’s internationally renowned production capabilities.

Additionally, with ongoing disputes and sanctions between China and various parties such as the U.S., EU, and Australia over trade and human rights issues, incentives for democratic and like-minded countries to further strengthen economic ties with Taiwan could extend beyond practical supply needs, and into the realm of circumventing political and social disputes with China.

[1] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/technology/tsmc-says-construction-has-started-arizona-chip-factory-2021-06-01/
[2] Global Taiwan News: https://globaltaiwan.org/2021/06/vol-6-issue-11/#JenniferChang06022021