The U.S. and Japanese Vaccine Donations Show Timely and Strong Supports for Democratic Taiwan
Taiwan received vaccines from two close allies this past week, as both the United States and Japan donated hundreds of thousands of doses in a show of support for Taiwan. These international demonstrations of solidarity and friendship are welcomed as Taiwan is fighting a domestic Covid outbreak which began in May.
Just days after Japan donated 1.2 million doses of vaccines to Taiwan on June 4, a delegation of Senators Tammy Duckworth, Dan Sullivan, and Christopher Coons visited Taiwan on June 6, announcing that the U.S. will donate 750,000 vaccines to Taiwan. That accounts for more than 10 percent of the 7 million doses Washington has pledged to give to Asian and Pacific nations. The delegation of US senators arrived in Taipei on a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport aircraft, making this the first U.S. military plane to land in Taiwan since a disaster relief mission following a 1999 earthquake.
The vaccine donations come at a time when such international aid has been politicized. China has turned access to Chinese vaccines into a “diplomatic weapon” to sever Taiwan’s limited diplomatic partners. Additionally, the Chinese government has been criticized for interfering with Taiwan’s negotiations to obtain vaccines from other countries, in an attempt to force Taiwan to accept Chinese-sourced vaccines in a maneuver designed to increase Chinese political influence over Taiwan.
The U.S. and Japanese vaccine donations have demonstrated their timely supports for and strong partnership with democratic Taiwan. Moreover, the arrival of American delegation to Taipei on an Air Force plane sends a signal of greater U.S. interest and involvement in Taiwan. Multiple PRC outlets took umbrage at both Japanese and American vaccine donations, and particularly the arrival of the three U.S. senators over the last weekend.
 Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/06/07/2003758714
 The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/06/us-taiwan-covid-vaccine-doses-senators-visit-tsai-ing-wen
 Financial Times: https://www.ft.com/content/815e8224-ac3f-4611-99e0-5e8f6bbf4a9a
USICA Demonstrates Bipartisan Congressional Support for Stronger U.S.-Taiwan Ties
With a 68-32 vote on June 8, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), a sweeping industrial policy and global competition bill aimed at countering the growing economic threat and military aggression from China. The act demonstrates bipartisan Congressional support for stronger U.S.-Taiwan ties, as the bill includes several pro-Taiwan legislations such as the Taiwan Fellowship Act.
The Taiwan Fellowship Act would establish a two-year fellowship program to send U.S. federal government employees to Taiwan to work with their counterparts in Taiwan government offices most relevant to their home agencies. Moreover, these participants will also receive Mandarin Chinese language training during their first year in Taiwan.
The USICA also incorporates the Taiwan Symbols of Sovereignty Act (or Reassurance for Official Contacts Act), which would allow Taiwanese diplomats and service members to display symbols of Taiwan’s sovereignty (such as the national flag or military insignia) and wear their uniforms when they conduct official business in the United States.
This bill also includes the Strategic Competition Act of 2021, which has several pro-Taiwan provisions, such as requiring the U.S. government agencies to engage with the government of Taiwan as the U.S. Government does with other foreign governments, and calling to help Taiwan execute asymmetric defense strategy and to conduct regular arms sales to Taiwan.
Another key provision of the USICA is the allocation of US$52 billion for a previously approved plan to increase U.S. domestic manufacturing of semiconductors, which would help U.S. industry bolster its capacity and improve technology. Taiwan certainly can play a key role as an important partner in this effort to help address the shortage of semiconductors that has slowed U.S. automakers’ production.