In pre-recorded video remarks provided to AmCham Taiwan for its annual Hsieh Nien Fan banquet this year, U.S. Senator Edward Markey lauded the Biden Administration for its attention to upholding the U.S.’ important – if unofficial – relationship with Taiwan. He noted that connections must be deepened at the working levels as well, emphasizing that the Taiwan Fellowship Act, a bill he recently reintroduced along with Senator Marco Rubio and Representatives Ami Bera and Steve Chabot, would help to achieve that goal.
The Taiwan Fellowship Act is based on the Mansfield Fellowship Program, which sends federal employees to Japan for one year to learn, study, and work. Extending such initiatives to Taiwan, Markey said, “can lead to collaborations to tackle the climate crisis, open up markets, and halt the march of authoritarianism we see throughout the region and throughout the world.”
That a progressive Democrat like Markey would be willing to team up with the deeply conservative Rubio and Chabot to promote such a bill signifies the strong bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that Taiwan is one of America’s most valued partners in the Indo-Pacific. Taiwan’s central importance to U.S. interests in the region may be one of the only areas of agreement between America’s incredibly polarized major political parties.
Besides the Taiwan Fellowship Act, other pieces of bipartisan, bicameral legislation have continued to be introduced following the transition of presidential leadership from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. In mid-April, the four co-chairs of the House of Representatives’ Taiwan Caucus sponsored the Taiwan International Solidarity Act. The bill, intended to amend the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act passed in March 2020, sets out to clarify UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, which recognized the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of China at the United Nations. It also seeks to counter the PRC’s attempts to use international organizations to strengthen its territorial claims to Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the Strategic Competition Act of 2021, a bill passed unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 21, aims to restore America’s leadership role in international organizations and strengthen diplomatic efforts to respond to the challenges posed by China. Regarding U.S. relations with Taiwan, it also states that no restrictions should be imposed on interaction between officials representing the two partners.
These and other recent signals from Washington are deeply encouraging and offer a strong rebuttal to concerns that Trump’s loss in last November’s election would result in a reversal of the progress made in enhancing U.S.-Taiwan ties during his term in office. As China shows no signs of wavering in its aggressive behavior in the military and diplomatic spheres, robust and multi-pronged support from the U.S. becomes ever more essential.
AmCham sincerely hopes that the current enthusiasm for improving Taiwan’s political status and international participation continues and eventually expands to include further economic interdependence between the U.S. and Taiwan. Beyond strong words affirming U.S. support, the resumption of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks, discussion of a double taxation agreement, and eventually a U.S.-Taiwan bilateral trade agreement would provide a concrete demonstration of the rock-solid commitment to Taiwan espoused by the Biden administration.