From Taiwan Relations Act to TAIPEI Act: A robust global partnership amid crisis
Passed with flying colors of unanimous consent in the Senate and a vote of 415-0 in the House, the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on March 26, supporting Taiwan’s diplomatic space and international participation. Congress once again demonstrates its overwhelmingly bipartisan support and unwavering friendship to Taiwan, just as the Taiwan Relations Act embodied in April 1979.
President Trump signed the TAIPEI Act at the best time, when the worst pandemic of our generation, COVID-19, continues its deadly rampage around the world. Universally acclaimed for its exceptional performance and capability of handling this pandemic, Taiwan’s 23 million people are still left in the cold, purposefully neglected by the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, WHO’s malicious rejection never stops Taiwan from making contributions to the efforts of combating the global pandemic, and the United States knows it well. On March 18, Taiwan and the United States released a major joint statement to cooperate on the COVID-19 research and development of rapid testing, vaccines and medicines, as well as exchange of critical medical supplies and equipment, such as surgical masks and materials of personal protective equipment (PPE) gowns. Following the U.S., the European Union, Australia and the Czech Republic have also established similar partnership with Taiwan in fighting COVID-19.
Moreover, President Tsai Ing-wen announced on April 1 that Taiwan, with now daily production of more than 13 million masks, will donate 10 million surgical masks to the countries severely hit by the coronavirus to ease desperate demand of masks and PPE gowns around the world. Among the donation, 2 million masks will go to the United States for those medical front-liners, following the previous promise of 100,000 masks per week to the United States based on the joint statement.
From the time four decades ago the TRA sought to redefine the bilateral relations between Taiwan and the U.S., to a new era of multilateral partnerships the TAIPEI Act ushered us in, the island republic has transformed itself into an integral member of global democracy. As President Tsai stated in her meeting with American Institute in Taiwan Director Brent Christensen, head of the U.S. mission, on the day after her successful reelection in January this year, “Taiwan is an irreplaceable partner in the international community, as well as a key player in regional democratic development. Taiwan can work together with the United States to contribute more to the world.”
A robust bilateral platform called Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) is a vivid example of this evolving global partnership. Since 2015, Taiwan and the U.S. have co-hosted 22 workshops in various fields, including public health, law enforcement, disaster relief, energy efficiency, women’s empowerment, cyber security, media literacy and good governance for 450 officials and experts from 38 countries, sharing Taiwan’s expertise. Now, the GCTF grows beyond bilateral initiative when Japan officially joins as co-host, followed by many like-minded countries expressing interest.
The Pacific Islands Dialogue and Indo-Pacific Democratic Governance Consultations, both established in 2019, are two other examples of this bilateral-global partnership. Safeguarding a free, democratic, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific region is the shared goal between Taipei and Washington. Amid growing concerns of China’s debt-trap diplomacy, Taiwan’s embrace of civil liberty, transparency and good governance shows the world a better path to prosperity, and we stand ready to be a driving force of global common good. Promotion of freedom of religion is another area Taiwan has been a key actor.
Taiwan can help and is helping amid the current health crisis, but the international community needs to bring Taiwan in from the cold. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared, the U.S. government will fully comply with the TAIPEI Act and do its best to assist Taiwan in having an appropriate role in related international organizations. In addition, the Department of State issued a media note on April 2, reaffirming its commitment to working with Taiwan and like-minded countries to expand Taiwan’s international participation and indicating that “countries around the world can benefit from better understanding the Taiwan model, as well as the generous contributions and impressive expertise Taiwan, a vibrant democracy and force for good, brings to the global community.”
With common values and strategic goals, the Taiwan-U.S. partnership, built on the cornerstone of the TRA, is indispensable for the world searching for solutions to global challenges. With the timely enactment of the TAIPEI Act and unmistakable support from the U.S., Taiwan will spare no efforts to join fellow democracies to share our resources and expertise and make Taiwan-U.S. global partnership a champion amid the current and the future crises. Indeed, we are more than willing, ready and available!
Stanley Kao is Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.
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