2023-0511: “Taiwan Representative Office Act” Reintroduced in Both Houses; Blinken Calls for Taiwan’s Inclusion in WHA

Bipartisan “Taiwan Representative Office Act” Introduced in House and Senate

On May 10, U.S. Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) reintroduced the bipartisan and bicameral “Taiwan Representative Office Act” (H.R.3171 & S.1513), calling to rename Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the U.S. from the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to the “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO).

“It is long overdue to correctly name the de facto embassy of our longtime friend and ally, Taiwan, as the Taiwan Representative Office,” Rep. Curtis said in a press release. “We shouldn’t tolerate pressure from China to undermine the sovereignty of the Taiwanese people, which China is also attempting to do by pressuring Lithuania and our other allies. America should stand by our democratic allies, and always stand with our friends around the world facing pressure and coercion from authoritarian regimes.”

“As Taiwan faces increasing threats to its security and sovereignty, we must continue to strengthen our diplomatic partnership with our democratic ally,” said Rep. Pappas. “This bipartisan legislation will properly recognize Taiwan’s de facto embassy to demonstrate our continued support. We must continue to stand with our democratic allies against authoritarian regimes and counter China’s attempts to intimidate and bully Taiwan and other countries.”

“I can think of no better way to recognize Taiwan’s contributions to global stability than by renaming their office in Washington, D.C., the seat of American democracy, to better reflect its actual purpose,” said Sen. Rubio. “At a time when the Chinese Communist Party actively intimidates and coerces Taiwan, the U.S. must make it clear that hostile powers have no right to claim sovereignty over democratic nations.”

Renaming TECRO to “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO) is one objective that Taiwanese Americans have been striving for over many years, and it has garnered increasing support from U.S. lawmakers. It might look like a symbolic step, but the name change is also a substantive move that not only would lend more dignity and respect to the 23 million people of Taiwan but also could strengthen U.S. leadership among democratic allies.

If a “Taiwan Representative Office” could sit in Washington D.C., it would be a powerful support to Lithuania’s decision to host a “Taiwanese Representative Office” in its capital Vilnius in 2021 under China’s pressure, and it could also encourage other allies to join the U.S. effort and make “Taiwan” representative offices “a new normal” across the world.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202305100004
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/05/11/2003799577

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken Calls for Taiwan’s Inclusion in World Health Assembly

On May 10, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed its gratitude for a statement released by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken supporting Taiwan’s bid to take part in the annual World Health Assembly (WHA) later this month.

It was the third consecutive year that the U.S.’ top diplomat has issued a statement backing Taiwan’s bid to participate in the decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO) — actions that Taiwan welcomed and was grateful for, MOFA said in a statement.

Taiwan will continue to work closely with the U.S. and other like-minded countries to contribute to global pandemic control and public health affairs, the ministry said.

The MOFA statement came in response to a statement issued by Blinken on May 9 in which he said the U.S. strongly encourages the WHO to invite Taiwan to participate as an observer at this year’s WHA meeting, “so it may lend its expertise to the discussions.”

“Inviting Taiwan as an observer would exemplify the WHO’s commitment to an inclusive, ‘health for all’ approach to international health cooperation,” Blinken said.

He said Taiwan is a “highly capable, engaged and responsible member of the global health community, and has been invited to participate as an observer in previous WHA meetings.”

He criticized that Taiwan’s isolation from the WHA was “unjustified and undermines inclusive global public health cooperation and security, which the world demands.”

“Taiwan is a reliable partner, a vibrant democracy, and a force for good in the world. The United States will continue to advocate for Taiwan’s return as an observer at the WHA, and, moreover, for its meaningful and robust participation throughout the UN system and in international fora,” Blinken concluded.

Similar appeals by the U.S. and other countries have fallen on deaf ears in the past, as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has successfully blocked Taiwan’s participation from the WHA meeting since 2017.

This year the WHA will hold its annual meeting from May 21 to 30 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Asked to comment on the possibility of Taiwan being invited to this year’s WHA, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in Taipei that the ministry is still working on it while thanking the U.S. for its long-term support on the issue.

A growing number of other “like-minded countries” are joining the effort alongside the U.S., and the support for Taiwan at the WHA is expected to reach its highest level in recent years, Wu added.

[1] Rep. John Curtis’ Office: https://curtis.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=2081
[2] Taiwan News: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4888869