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Politics Confidence in a stronger Taiwan-U.S. relationship

19:40  05 may  2021
19:40  05 may  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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In mid-April, former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), a personal friend of President Joe Biden, led a delegation to Taipei. One of the few planes to touch down in Songshan Airport amid the pandemic, Dodd brought a crucial message: the Biden administration would be a "reliable and trusted friend" to Taiwan. It would continue to seek ways of expanding Taiwan's international space and supporting our self-defense.

a red white and blue flag: Confidence in a stronger Taiwan-U.S. relationship © Getty Images Confidence in a stronger Taiwan-U.S. relationship

This visit was timely, as it comes at a period of growing Chinese aggression. This month alone, dozens of PRC warplanes crossed into Taiwan's air defense identification zone, heightening risks of accidents and miscalculations. Adm. John Aquilino, chosen to be the next commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last month that, "my opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think."

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We also see more cognitive warfare and gray zone tactics being used against Taiwan. Disinformation has become a near daily occurrence, designed to sow doubt in our society and democratic institutions. In January, Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research released a 200-page report detailing the extent of PRC cognitive operations on social media, mobile messaging platforms, and the internet.

These destabilizing actions require solidarity between Taipei and Washington. We are grateful that over past months, we have seen substantive steps forward in the bilateral relationship.

On Jan. 20, I represented Taiwan at the inauguration of President Biden. Soon after, we saw a series of statements from the U.S. administration reaffirming the longstanding partnership between Taiwan and the U.S. Earlier this month, the Department of State unveiled new "contact guidelines," encouraging U.S. government officials to interact with their Taiwan counterparts.

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The security of Taiwan also became a focus of the recent summit meeting between President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, as well as the "2+2" meetings that took place in Tokyo. The White House Interim National Security Strategic Guidance has called Taiwan a "critical economic and security partner" of the U.S., while emphasizing the U.S. desire to work closely with democratic partners around the world.

These steps have been warmly welcomed by the people of Taiwan. They have enhanced our ability to manage cross-strait relations from a position of confidence, a key element for maintaining peace and stability in the region. They are also a strong deterrence against unilateral changes to the cross-strait status quo, with recognition that the survival of our democracy is intimately connected to the future of the free world.

As we chart a course forward in the months and years ahead, we see particular areas that would further enhance our partnership, as consistent with our shared values and interests.

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We hope to make progress in broadening our bilateral trade relationship. As the 9th largest trading partner of the U.S. and a critical link in the high-tech supply chain, Taiwan is ideally positioned to be a positive force in post-pandemic economic recovery, while ensuring that any enhanced trade relationship fulfills shared labor and environmental priorities.

We also look forward to greater cooperation on promoting global democratic values. The democratic backsliding taking place in many vulnerable areas around the world has highlighted the need for greater cooperation amongst like-minded countries. We welcome President Biden's plans to hold a "Summit for Democracy." Taiwan looks forward to supporting the summit in the many ways possible, while continuing our crucial role as a beacon of freedom in the Indo-Pacific region.

Multilateral cooperation is another area of great potential. The discussions over Taiwan held between the U.S. and other like-minded partners highlight our situation as one that requires greater international attention and coordination. We seek to enhance cooperation through existing frameworks such as the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, as well as other platforms for multilateral engagements.

As President Biden concludes his first 100 days in office, we see strong momentum in the Taiwan-U.S. partnership. Our relationship is "rock-solid" and indicative of the shared values and common interests we hold. It also reflects on the strong foundation of bipartisan support from Congress and across the American public. We echo Dodd's comments by saying that Taiwan is also a reliable and trusted friend of the U.S. We are confident that this relationship will continue to thrive in the years to come.

Bi-khim Hsiao is Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.

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