2023-0323: German Minister Leads Historic Visit to Taiwan; Bill to Support Taiwan Passes House; Rep. Calvert Leads Delegation to Taiwan

German Minister Leads Historic Visit to Taiwan

On March 21, Taiwan and Germany inked a science and technology agreement witnessed by Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger, the first German minister to visit Taiwan in 26 years, since 1997.

“It’s a great pleasure and honor for me to be the first minister heading a specialist government department to visit Taiwan in 26 years,” Stark-Watzinger said in her address to the signing ceremony at the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC).

The goal of the agreement, based on democracy, transparency, openness and other shared values, is to enhance development and innovation in scientific research cooperation, to create added value for both countries and to address global challenges, she said.

The agreement was signed by German Institute Taipei Director-General Jorg Polster and Taiwan’s representative to Germany Shieh Jhy-Wey, jointly witnessed by Stark-Watzinger and Taiwan’s NSTC Minister Wu Tsung-tsong.

Under the agreement, Taiwan and Germany will enhance cooperation in such areas as artificial intelligence, semiconductors, IC design, automobile, and hydrogen energy, Minister Wu said.

The agreement also seeks to cultivate talent, in particular Chinese-language education for German students, he said, adding that it would enable more exchange opportunities for young people.

Wu also hailed the “historic” visit to Taiwan by the German minister, saying that it shows Europe — especially Germany — now views Taiwan in a new light, as a reliable partner and a free democracy that respects human rights.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202303210014
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/03/22/2003796518

House Passes Bill to Strengthen U.S. Support for an Independent Taiwan

On March 22, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Taiwan Assurance Implementation Act” (H.R.1159) by an overwhelming 404-7 vote. This Act would require the State Department to regularly review the guidelines for exchanges with Taiwan and report to Congress.

Earlier on February 24, Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO), vice chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a press release that she introduced this bill to “reinforce Congressional oversight on U.S.-Taiwan relations and ensure that changes in U.S. policies towards Taiwan are aimed at deepening and enhancing this important relationship.”

The bill, which amends the “Taiwan Assurance Act of 2020,” requires that the U.S. State Department periodically conduct reviews of its guidelines for engagement with Taiwan, and submit updated reports to Congress at least once every two years.

According to a press release issued by Wagner’s office on March 22, these regular reviews and updated reports must: 

  1. Explain how the guidance deepens and expands United States-Taiwan relations, and reflects the value, merits, and importance of the United States-Taiwan relationship.
  2. Give due consideration to the fact that Taiwan is a democratic partner and a free and open society that respects universal human rights and democratic values.
  3. Ensure that the conduct of relations with Taiwan reflects the longstanding, comprehensive, and values-based relationship the United States shares with Taiwan, and contribute to the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.
  4. Identify opportunities to lift any remaining self-imposed limitations on U.S.-Taiwan engagement and articulate a plan to do so.
[1] Rep. Ann Wagner’s Office: https://wagner.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/wagner-bill-combat-chinas-aggression-support-independent-taiwan-passes
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202303230005

Taiwan’s President Evokes Defense Spirit During Talks With Visiting U.S. Lawmakers

The people of Taiwan are determined to defend their homeland and its sovereignty, and are willing to invest more in regional peace with like-minded partners, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on March 16, while meeting with a U.S. Congressional delegation led by Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA), chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Also in the delegation, which arrived in Taiwan on March 15 for a two-day visit, were U.S. Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK), Steve Womack (R-AR), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Edward Case (D-HI), and Mike Garcia (R-CA), all of whom are on the House Committee on Appropriations.

The visiting representatives have significant influence on U.S. government expenditures, including for defense resources, President Tsai said, adding that their visit demonstrates the importance they attach to Taiwan’s security and Taiwan-U.S. relations.

Highlighting her administration’s efforts to bolster defense resilience and restructure the military, Tsai reiterated the resolve of Taiwanese to defend themselves.

“We are willing and able to bolster cooperation with the United States and other like-minded partners to advance regional peace and stability and global democratic resilience,” she said.

She also thanked the U.S. Congress for its “unwavering bipartisan support” for Taiwan, in particular, the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023,” which include many provisions designed to strengthen regional security cooperation as well as initiatives supporting Taiwan’s defense.

On trade, Tsai mentioned the second round of negotiations in January under the “U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade,” expressing hope that the two sides could reach an agreement on trade facilitation, labor rights, and digital trade.

This agreement could hopefully become a basis for signing a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement, she added.

Calvert thanked Tsai for her welcome, saying that the delegation has come to Taiwan to discuss regional security, trade and investment, among other areas of mutual interest, and to build on decades of peace and prosperity in the region and strengthen the ties between the U.S. and Taiwan.

[1] Taiwan Presidential Office: https://english.president.gov.tw/NEWS/6457
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/03/17/2003796240