2023-0727: Taiwan International Solidarity Act Passes House; A Harris-Lai Meeting in the U.S. Urged; Taiwan-U.K. New Trade Partnership

U.S. House Passes Bill to Counter China’s Sovereignty Claim over Taiwan and Safeguard Taiwan’s International Participation

On July 25, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the “Taiwan International Solidarity Act”  (H.R.1176), which aims to counter China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan and its growing efforts to exclude Taiwan from participating in international organizations. The bill will now proceed to the Senate.

In addition to supporting Taiwan’s participation in international organizations as specified under the 2019 TAIPEI Act, this bill also require the U.S., as a member of any international organizations, to oppose any attempts by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to “resolve Taiwan’s status by distorting the decisions, language, policies or procedures” of such organizations.

The bill points out that the 1971 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 2758 — which recognized the Government of the PRC as the only lawful representatives of China to the UN — mentioned nothing about Taiwan’s international representation and sovereignty.

The UNGA Resolution 2758 “did not address the issue of representation of Taiwan and its people in the United Nations or any related organizations, nor did the resolution take a position on the relationship between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan or include any statement pertaining to Taiwan’s sovereignty,” the bill said.

“The United States opposes any initiative that seeks to change Taiwan’s status without the consent of the [Taiwanese] people,” it emphasizes.

“The passage of the Taiwan International Solidarity Act is a significant step in reaffirming our commitment to Taiwan and in opposing attempts by the People’s Republic of China to use international organizations to distort Taiwan’s status,” said Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) in a statement on July 25.

“Building on my TAIPEI Act, this bipartisan legislation stands strong in support of Taiwan’s rightful place on the global stage,” Curtis added.

“For too long, the People’s Republic of China has distorted policies and procedures at international organizations to assert its sovereignty claims over Taiwan, often to the detriment of global health and security efforts,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). 

“This bipartisan legislation ensures that we stand against Beijing’s weaponization of international organizations and in solidarity with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan,” Connolly added.

FAPA President Minze Chien stated, “China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan is a bizarre and irrational fiction. After all, the People’s Republic of China has not had any effective control over Taiwan since it was established in 1949. The time is now for the U.S. to proactively challenge Beijing’s ‘One China Principle,’ and make it clear that Taiwan is not part of China.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202307260009
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/07/27/2003803808

Six U.S. Lawmakers Urge VP Harris to Meet with Taiwan VP Lai during His Upcoming U.S. Transit

On July 26, six U.S. House representatives signed a letter urging U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to meet with Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te (or William Lai) during his transit stops through the United States next month.

VP Lai will transit through the U.S. on his way to visit Taiwan’s diplomatic ally Paraguay in August. Lai, who is also the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate, will attend the inauguration of Paraguayan president-elect Santiago Peña on August 15.

Six U.S. House members led by Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) composed a letter calling on VP Harris to meet with Lai personally during his U.S. stopover.

They pointed out that as a U.S. Senator in 2018, Harris voted in favor of the Taiwan Travel Act, which passed Congress and made it U.S. policy to “encourage high-level meetings between senior U.S. officials and their Taiwanese counterparts.”

They said that in recent months, “the Chinese authorities have redoubled their reckless efforts to provoke a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, and continue to engage in ‘dollar diplomacy’ as part of a relentless campaign to restrict Taiwan’s international space.”

The representatives emphasized that a meeting between Harris and Lai would “underscore the importance America affixes to the U.S.-Taiwan friendship and make it clear that Beijing’s meddling in American foreign policy is unwelcome.”

They added that this gesture would help strengthen Taiwan’s ties with its remaining diplomatic allies and demonstrate that the Biden administration “will not cower in the face of increasing Chinese belligerence and bullying.”

In addition to Tiffany, the letter was also signed by Republican Representatives Andrew Ogles, Byron Donalds, Earl L. “Buddy” Carter, Scott Perry, and Scott DesJarlais.

Harris and Lai met for the first time publicly in Honduras on January 27, 2022, during the inauguration of Honduran President Xiomara Castro.

[1] Taiwan News: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4954235

Taiwan, U.K. Planning Preliminary Talks on New Trade Partnership

On July 26, Taiwan and the United Kingdom jointly announced to work toward preliminary talks on a new trade partnership that will focus initially on investment, digital trade, and energy.

London and Taipei issued separate statements saying they would start work on an “Enhanced Trade Partnership” (ETP), though they did not say when the official talks on ETP would begin.

The decision on the ETP’s launch was made during a teleconference held on July 26 between Taiwan’s top trade negotiator and Minister without Portfolio John Deng and Britain’s Minister for International Trade Nigel Huddleston.

Both sides agreed to prioritize the talks on bilateral investment, digital trade, energy, and net-zero carbon emissions to pave the way for fair trade, to cooperate in climate change and decarbonization, and to enhance data free flow with trust, Taiwan’s Office of Trade Negotiations said in a press release.

Taiwan is the third country the U.K. has engaged in ETP talks with, following India and Thailand, according to the office.

Britain’s Department for Business and Trade said in a separate statement that the U.K.-Taiwan ETP partnership would be underpinned by “non-legally binding Memoranda of Understanding” and will build on “our ongoing collaboration through annual Trade Talks.”

Also on July 26, both sides announced that the U.K. will host the 26th annual bilateral Trade Talks later this year. The U.K. and Taiwan have a long-standing trade relationship with annual ministerial trade talks held since 1991.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/business/202307270005