Taiwan Government and International – September 2020

AmCham Taipei Chairman CW Chin and President Tsai meet at the Presidential Office in August. Photo Credit: Office of the President

AmCham Meets with  President Tsai

AmCham Taipei Chairman CW Chin and several AmCham staff members met with President Tsai Ing-wen at the Presidential Office on August 18. Speaking with the group, President Tsai called attention to the deepening U.S.-Taiwan partnership in light of a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation signed during the August visit of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. She also noted the establishment of the Taiwan-U.S. Business Alliance, initiated by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).

The president also thanked AmCham Taipei “for recognizing Taiwan’s pandemic prevention efforts and for offering numerous economic and trade policy recommendations in its annual Taiwan White Paper published in June.” She acknowledged the Chamber’s attention to government policies aimed at assisting the tourism industry during this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remarking on the recent push to negotiate and sign a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S., President Tsai expressed her appreciation for AmCham’s continuing efforts in this area, particularly in raising the issue once again in the 2020 White Paper.

Regarding the importance of such an agreement, Tsai stated her belief that “with a BTA, Taiwan and the United States would be able to capitalize on the complementarity of our industries. Enhancing economic and trade exchanges between Taiwan and the United States would also create more business opportunities, benefiting both sides.”

HHS Secretary Azar Visits Taiwan

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar arrived in Taiwan on August 9, the first Cabinet-level visit since the U.S. passed the Taiwan Travel Act in 2018, and the highest-level visit of a U.S. official to Taiwan since the two countries broke official diplomatic ties in 1979. He met with President Tsai Ing-wen the next day at the Presidential Office, where he emphasized Taiwan’s importance to the international public health community.

Secretary Azar also met with his Taiwanese counterpart, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung, at Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control. There they signed the first memorandum of understanding between HHS and MOHW, agreeing that the two agencies will collaborate on health issues in the future.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Taiwan’s Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung sign an MOU pledging to collaborate on future health issues. Photo Credit: Martti Chen

Also arriving on August 9 was a delegation from Japan led by former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who came to pay respects to late Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui. Meanwhile, foreign minister Joseph Wu welcomed the arrival of the new representative of Somaliland, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud.

China fiercely condemned the Azar visit, signaling its displeasure by dispatching fighter jets to the Taiwan Strait during his stay. China also urged the U.S. to abide by what it terms the “One-China principle.” The U.S. follows a “One-China policy,” which differs from China’s “principle” in that it acknowledges, but does not endorse, the PRC’s claim that both sides of the Strait belong to China. When asked by reporters about China’s response to the visit, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded that it reflected the PRC’s “weakness.”

Azar’s trip is also notable in that neither his delegation nor the other visiting dignitaries had to undergo the 14-day quarantine required of all visitors to Taiwan since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Rather, they were asked to present two negative COVID-19 test results upon their arrival, wear masks at all times, and comply with other virus prevention measures during their stay.

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