1129: “TRO” Opens in Lithuania, Dropping “One China” Cliches, U.S. Codel to Taiwan, Taiwan Invited to “Summit for Democracy”

“Taiwanese Representative Office” Opens in Lithuania Despite Chinese Protests

Taiwan opened its new representative office in Lithuania despite retaliatory sanctions launched by China against Lithuania over the latter’s decision to allow the use of “Taiwanese” in the office’s name.

On November 18, the “Taiwanese Representative Office” in Lithuania was officially opened in the Baltic state’s capital Vilnius. It is Taiwan’s only overseas representative office named “Taiwan” in Europe and the second one after the Taiwan Representative Office in Somaliland, which opened last year.

Taiwan’s other missions in countries without formal relations typically use the name “Taipei,” mainly due to the host countries’ preference to avoid any semblance of treating Taiwan as a separate country, which angers China.

Not surprisingly, China has sought to “punish” Lithuania for its decision to allow the use of “Taiwanese” in the name of Taiwan’s office, seeing such moves as encouraging Taiwan’s formal independence. 

On November 21, China downgraded diplomatic ties with Lithuania to the level of charge d’affaires, a diplomatic rank below ambassador. China’s recent retaliatory actions have also included recalling Chinese ambassador to Lithuania and expelling the Lithuanian ambassador from Beijing, as well as suspending direct freight train services to Lithuania.

Despite facing strong pressure from China, the Lithuanian government said it will stick to its decision. On November 21, Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said that the opening of the Taiwanese representative office, which does not have a formal diplomatic status, should not have come as a surprise to anyone.

“Lithuania wants a more intense economic, cultural and scientific relationship with Taiwan,” she said. “I want to emphasize that this step does not mean any conflict or disagreement with the ‘one-China’ policy.”

On November 22, Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu praised Lithuania for its “moral courage” in allowing Taiwan to open the representative office, despite mounting pressure from China. Wu also denounced China’s reaction as “rude and unreasonable.”

FAPA President Minze Chien said: “This is a victory for common sense and an acknowledgement of reality. The country is named ‘Taiwan.’ So, the diplomatic mission should be called Taiwanese or Taiwan Representative Office (TRO). This will encourage other countries — including the United States — to also call the Taiwan office in their respective countries “TRO.” Next, Lithuania should establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202111180018
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2021/11/20/2003768181
[3] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202111220010
[4] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/11/23/2003768347

Former Pentagon Official Calls on U.S. to Drop “One China” Cliches

The United States should stop talking about “One China,” as the policy is supposed to be conditional on China’s peaceful approach to Taiwan, former Pentagon official said during an online seminar organized by FAPA on November 19.

The former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver, who now chairs the Project 2049 Institute, said the “One China Policy” is based on China’s peaceful handling of the “Taiwan issue.”

However, as Beijing has torn up its promises and relentlessly threatens Taiwan, the U.S. no longer has any obligation to keep mentioning “One China,” Schriver argued.

Schriver called on the U.S. and Taiwan to continue improving their relations and eventually have “normal” diplomatic ties.

He also hopes Washington can move toward a free trade agreement with Taiwan and promote other issues Taiwan is interested in.

[1] Taiwan News: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4351225

Second U.S. Congressional Delegation This Month Arrives in Taiwan Despite Chinese “Blunt” Warnings

On the evening of November 25, five members of the U.S. House of Representatives arrived in Taiwan on a military aircraft for a two-day visit, despite “blunt” warnings from the Chinese embassy in Washington, which had demanded the trip be canceled.

The bipartisan five-Representative delegation, led by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs chair Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), was the second U.S. Congressional delegation visit to Taiwan this month, following a three-day visit by a Sen. John Cornyn-led group earlier in November.

Other members of the most recent delegation include Reps. Nancy Mace (R-SC), Colin Allred (D-TX), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), and Sara Jacobs (D-CA). Two of them, Mace and Slotkin, said they had made the trip despite direct demands from the Chinese embassy to cancel the visit.

“When news broke of our visit to Taiwan, China’s embassy demanded we cancel the trip (we didn’t),” Mace tweeted on November 25. In another tweet, Mace referred to Taiwan as “the Republic of Taiwan.”

Slotkin also tweeted after arriving in Taiwan that her office had received a similarly “blunt message from the Chinese Embassy” telling her to call off the trip.

During a meeting on November 26 with the delegation, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen announced that Taiwan’s Veterans Affairs Council (VAC) would establish a mission in the U.S. early next year to foster more bilateral exchanges.

“Veteran affairs is one area in which Taiwan and the U.S. have enjoyed particularly close cooperation over the past few years,” Tsai said, adding that starting next January “our Veterans Affairs Council will have an official base in Washington, D.C.”

Meanwhile, Takano remarked that the delegation’s trip to Taiwan served to “remind our partners and allies that after two trying years that we’ve endured, our commitment and our shared responsibility for a free and secure Indo-Pacific region remain stronger than ever.”

Takano added he was hopeful travel to Taiwan by U.S. policy makers would become “business as usual again” as the COVID-19 pandemic gradually wanes.

The delegation came to Taiwan to “learn about the region and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to our hosts,” Slotkin said, adding it would discuss a wide range of economic and national security issues with Taiwanese leaders.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202111260009

Taiwan Invited to Upcoming U.S.-led “Summit for Democracy”

On November 24, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked the United States government for inviting Taiwan to attend President Biden’s “Summit for Democracy” from December 9–10.

MOFA said Taiwan will be represented by Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang, who is responsible for digital issues. She will share with participants at the summit how Taiwan has strengthened democratic governance through the use of technology, the ministry added.

Taiwan’s representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim will also join Tang at the summit.

On November 23, the U.S. Department of State released a list of 110 invited participants to the summit, including Taiwan, Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K.

China and Russia were not invited, and Beijing expressed anger at the decision to invite Taiwan.

The summit will be held virtually and is expected to focus on three key themes — “defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights,” according to the State Department’s press release.

At a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing in March, Secretary of State Antony Blinken had promised that the U.S. would invite Taiwan to the summit.

Taiwan is on the front line of defending freedom and democracy against authoritarianism, and would continue to work with civic groups at home and abroad, as well as like-minded countries, to be a force for good in the world, MOFA said.

Experts on China said that U.S. inviting Taiwan to attend the summit was significant.

“I agree Taiwan more than qualifies- but it does seem to be only democratic govt invited that the US govt does not officially recognize. So its inclusion is a big deal,” Hofstra University law professor Julian Ku wrote on Twitter.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202111240012
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/11/25/2003768464