2024-0517: Taiwan’s Inauguration Ceremony; Senate Letter on Taiwan Fellowship Program

May 20 Inauguration of Taiwan’s Lai Ching-te

Dr. Lai Ching-te, the incumbent vice president of Taiwan, will be inaugurated as Taiwan’s next president on May 20. Hsiao Bi-khim, the former Taiwan Ambassador to the United States, will be inaugurated as Vice President. Their presidency would mark the first time a political party assumes a third consecutive term in Taiwan’s history.

Two days ago, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) announced a bipartisan delegation would attend the inauguration of Taiwan President-elect Lai. It would “represent the American people,” in keeping with past precedence.

The U.S. delegation will include former Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and former AIT Chair Richard Bush. The delegation will attend the inauguration ceremony and meet with leading figures in Taiwan. 

At a hearing in Taiwan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, National Security Bureau (NSB) officials reported that Taiwan has been subject to over 2.5 million rounds of cyberattacks launched daily by China in the months leading up to the inauguration. Targets include Taiwan government websites. NSB officials also expressed concern over the gray zone coercion of Taiwan and potential Chinese attempts at coercing Taiwan’s Pacific allies like Palau in their upcoming elections.

[1] American Institute in Taiwan
[2] Focus Taiwan

Bipartisan Senators Urge Blinken on Implementation of the Taiwan Fellowship Program

On May 15, Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the U.S. Department of State to finalize an agreement with Taiwan to implement the Taiwan Fellowship program and ensure the first fellows can arrive in Taiwan by the end of the year.

Other cosigners of the letter include: Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Joni Ernst (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), and Jerry Moran (R-KS).

The Taiwan Fellowship Program was created under the Taiwan Fellowship Act, which was signed into law in December 2022 as part of the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY2023).

Modeled after the Mansfield Fellowship Program, which provides selected U.S. government employees an immersive experience in Japan, the Taiwan Fellowship Program also seeks to provide U.S. government employees the opportunity to become the next generation of Taiwan experts. Fellows would spend the first year in Mandarin Chinese language training and the second year working in a Taiwanese government agency.

But the Taiwan Fellowship Act passed over a year ago, and there has been insufficient progress on the Taiwan Fellowship program. The delay in implementation violates statutory deadlines and is at the expense of the seven-year sunset provision granted by the FY2023 NDAA.

“Getting the Taiwan Fellowship program up and running is increasingly important as the authoritarian forces of the PRC, North Korea, and Russia continue to threaten the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan,” the senators wrote. “The Taiwan Fellowship Program is a tangible manifestation of a principled foreign policy committed both to supporting a key democratic partner and building a generation of American foreign affairs professionals with needed expertise on Taiwan.”

[1] Office of Senator Ed Markey