Taiwan Government and International – March 2022

Taiwan Vice President William Lai met U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris for the first time at Honduran President Xiomara Castro's inauguration ceremony in January. Photo: Office of the President

By Dexter Murray and Aimee Wu

VP Lai Attends Honduras Inauguration Ceremony

Taiwan Vice President William Lai led a delegation to attend the inauguration ceremony of newly elected president of Honduras Xiomara Castro in January. Lai’s U.S. counterpart, Kamala Harris, was also present at the event. Harris spoke briefly with Lai during Castro’s inauguration, the first time the two had met publicly.

Castro stated that Taiwan’s longstanding support has been instrumental to the success of numerous domestic projects in Honduras. “It is anticipated that the two sides will enjoy a firm friendship going forward,” she said.

En route to Honduras, Lai made a stopover in Los Angeles, where he was greeted by James Moriarty, the U.S.-based chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan. During his brief stay in the U.S., Lai held online meetings with a total of 17 members of the U.S. Congress. Discussions included issues of security across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s national defense, bilateral trade, and economic ties between Taiwan and the U.S.

U.S. Bill Seeks Higher Taiwan Office Status

The U.S. House of Representatives on February 3 passed the Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength (America COMPETES) Act of 2022. The Act, along with a matching bill proposed in the Senate, seeks to rename Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), as the “Taiwan Representative Office.”

Republican Senator Marco Rubio and the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez sponsored the Senate bill, while Republican representative John Curtis and Democrat Chris Papas led the House version. Spokesperson for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Hsieh Pei-fen expressed gratitude for the bipartisan support and said she “anticipates closer partnership” between Taiwan and the U.S.

Sections of the House bill seek to strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations. Such measures include reinforcing Taiwan’s defense capabilities, advocating Taiwan’s participation in international organizations such as the World Health Assembly, and expanding bilateral economic and technological cooperation.

Olympic Speed Skater Sparks Criticism

Taiwanese speed skater Huang Yu-ting faced harsh criticism after posting a training video wearing a Chinese national team skinsuit. Photo: Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee

Speed skater Huang Yu-Ting faced fierce criticism on social media after posting a training video wearing a Chinese national team skinsuit in connection with the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang later deleted the video, explaining that the skinsuit was a gift from a Chinese athlete she befriended in Germany. Taiwan’s Sports Administration (SA) called Huang’s actions tactless, saying she ought to be “more aware of the sensitivity of the cross-Taiwan Strait politics.”

Huang was Taiwan’s flagbearer during the Olympics Opening Ceremony. Despite widespread criticism of Huang on social media calling for her to be penalized, she competed in the women’s 500m, 1,000m, and 1,500m races as planned.

The SA committed to amending regulations to provide a code of conduct for competing athletes to prevent similar events from occurring in the future. SA Deputy Director-General Hung Chi-chang said the administration plans to complete the amendment before the Chengdu Summer Universiade in June. At a review meeting of the Winter Olympics due to be held in April, Taiwan’s sports authorities are expected to discuss whether and how Huang will be punished.

Indo-Pac Strategy, Sale Support Taiwan’s Defense

The White House on February 11 released its Indo-Pacific Strategy report, reiterating U.S. commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances that reaffirm U.S. support for Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties. The report reemphasized the importance the U.S. places on maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Earlier, on February 9, the U.S. Department of State approved a US$100 million arms sale to Taiwan to support its air and missile defense systems. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the U.S. government and said in a separate statement that “Taiwan will continue to maintain national security with solid defense capabilities and strengthen our partnership with the U.S.”

Beijing condemned the sale, saying it breached the one China policy and the Three Joint Communiqués, in which the U.S. declared its intent to gradually reduce its arms sales to Taiwan (as usual, Beijing did not mention the subsequent U.S. explanation that decreased arms sales would be contingent on PRC efforts to promote a peaceful atmosphere in the Taiwan Strait). “The sale is an intervention of our domestic affairs which puts China’s sovereignty at risk,” China’s Ministry of National Defense wrote in a press release.

Government Cracks Down on Economic Spies

The Executive Yuan has proposed amendments to the National Security Act that would penalize those who deliberately leak Taiwan’s core technology and trade secrets to China or other hostile foreign parties. The amendments stipulate that those convicted of business espionage would face imprisonment and fines of up to NT$100 million (US$3.59 million).

In recent years, China has been actively seeking to poach semiconductor talent and sophisticated technology from Taiwan. Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang noted that the technology sector is the “powerhouse” of Taiwan’s economy and warned of increasing “red supply chain” infiltration of Taiwan’s industries by China. In some cases, spies have assumed fake identities to invest in Taiwan illegally and steal core technologies.

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