0722: Taiwanese Rep. Office in Lithuania, Taiwan Partnership Act, U.K. Deploys Warships to Indo-Pacific

“Taiwanese Representative Office” to Open in Lithuania

Taiwan is to establish a “Taiwanese Representative Office” in Lithuania, which will be the first office in Europe to be called “Taiwanese,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on July 20.

The plan signals progress in Taiwan-Europe relations, as it will be the first time in 18 years that Taiwan has opened a new representative office in Europe. The last office to be established there was the “Taipei” Representative Office in Slovakia, in 2003.

The planned office in Lithuania would be the first in Europe that is called “Taiwanese,” a nomenclature similar to the names of the British Office Taipei, the French Office in Taipei, the German Institute Taipei and the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu said. When the “Taiwan Representative Office” in Somaliland opened last year, it was the first to use the name “Taiwan,” he added.

Taiwan and Lithuania are both situated on the front lines of defending democracy and freedom. The relations between the two countries have warmed in recent years and are expected to grow as Lithuania also plans to set up an office in Taiwan by the end of this year.

The United States also welcomed Taiwan’s increased presence in Europe. The State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) tweeted: “The U.S. welcomes Taiwan’s expanding international partnerships and its work to address shared challenges . . . . We applaud the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.”

FAPA President Minze Chien stated: “It is highly encouraging that the office will be named ‘The Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania.’ With U.S. legislation about to be passed in the Congress which calls for renaming the ‘Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office’ (TECRO) in the United States to ‘Taiwan Representative Office’ (TRO), the time is now for the rest of the world to follow the U.S.’ lead.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202107200013
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/07/21/2003761201

“Taiwan Partnership Act” Introduced to Strengthen U.S.-Taiwan Defense Ties

A bipartisan group of 13 senators introduced the “Taiwan Partnership Act” on July 20, calling for the establishment of a partnership program between the U.S. National Guard and Taiwan’s military to ensure a well-integrated defense force capable of fast deployment during a crisis. Identical legislation was filed in the House of Representatives as well.

The bill would also bolster “exchanges between senior defense officials and general officers of the U.S. and Taiwan to improve interoperability, improve Taiwan’s reserve forces, and expand humanitarian and disaster relief cooperation,” according to a joint statement issued by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

“Taiwan is a critical ally in a region facing growing destabilization and competition for power,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation would help ensure the National Guard is ready to act in support of Taiwan should its autonomy be threatened.”

Sen. Duckworth, a National Guard veteran who visited Taiwan last month, said the bill would evaluate ways to enhance U.S. cooperation with Taiwan, which she called “an important strategic partner for the U.S. in the Indo-Pacific region.” The National Guard is “ideally suited” to partner with Taiwan in areas such as “emergency response, cyber defense, education, cultural exchanges and advisory programs,” she added.

In a separate statement, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) warned that Taiwan faces a growing level of “aggression” from Communist China, making it imperative for the U.S. to make clear that it stands with Taiwan in defense of its democracy. “This legislation carries an important message to General Secretary Xi [Jinping] that we will not tolerate his threats against Taiwan’s autonomy,” he added.

Other cosponsors of the Taiwan Partnership Act include Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), James Lankford (R-OK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Todd Young (R-IN), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS).

In the House of Representatives, the legislation was led by Reps. Mike Gallagher (WI-08), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Lisa McClain (MI-10) and Stephanie Murphy (FL-07).

[1] Newsweek: https://www.newsweek.com/senators-propose-enhancing-taiwan-defense-face-china-threat-1611781
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202107210017

U.K. to Permanently Deploy Two Warships to Indo-Pacific

On July 20, the United Kingdom announced that it will permanently deploy two warships to the Indo-Pacific region after its carrier strike group led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth visit Japan in September through seas where China is vying for influence with the United States and Japan.

Plans for the high-profile visit by the carrier strike group come as the U.K. deepens security ties with Japan, which has expressed growing alarm in recent months over China’s territorial ambitions in the region, including Taiwan.

“Following on from the strike group’s inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year,” Britain’s Defence Minister Ben Wallace said in a joint announcement in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi.

“Japan and the U.K., which share basic values, must stand together to face challenges in the Indo-Pacific,” Kishi said. “We confirmed our shared position in strongly opposing unilateral attempts using force to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas,” Kishi added. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman also held a meeting with Minister Kishi on July 21 in Tokyo, where they reaffirmed the U.S.-Japan Alliance as the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, and underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

The Queen Elizabeth strike group will come to Japan through the South China Sea (parts of which are claimed by China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asian countries), with stops in India, Singapore and South Korea.

In a further sign of the British growing regional engagement, Wallace, who traveled to Japan with a delegation of military commanders, said the U.K. would also eventually deploy a Littoral Response Group, a unit of marines trained to undertake missions including evacuations and anti-terrorism operations.

[1] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/britain-permanently-deploy-two-warships-asian-waters-2021-07-20/
[2] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Aerospace-Defense/UK-to-permanently-station-2-patrol-ships-in-Indo-Pacific
[3] U.S. Department of State: https://www.state.gov/deputy-secretary-shermans-meeting-with-japanese-defense-minister-kishi/