Taiwan to continue with 'cautious balance' in U.S. relations: envoy

10/07/2020 05:25 PM
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Taiwan's representative to the U.S., Hsiao Bi-khim. CNA photo Oct. 3, 2020

New York, Oct. 6 (CNA) Taiwan's top envoy to the United States said on Tuesday that Taiwan will continue its cautious and balanced approach to Taiwan-U.S. relations, after Taiwan's Legislature passed earlier that day a resolution in support of "actively pursuing" formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) made the comments during a virtual video discussion with Columbia University professor Tom Christensen, in which the two discussed the challenges and opportunities facing Taiwan-U.S. relations.

During the discussion, Christensen praised President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for her "very strategic, very moderate and very smart" approach to balancing Taiwan's economic and security realities, which Hsiao echoed.

Tsai's "cautious balance" in managing U.S.-Taiwan relations has "led to very strong confidence" in the U.S., Hsiao said, and is one of the reasons why the U.S. government has been able to take further steps in engaging with and supporting Taiwan.

Hsiao acknowledged, however, that many Taiwanese hope for a breakthrough in diplomatic relations, citing the resolution passed unanimously earlier that day by the Legislative Yuan.

The non-binding resolution, which was proposed by the Kuomintang (KMT) caucus, states that "the government should actively pursue the re-establishment of formal diplomatic ties with the U.S."

Despite this hope, Hsiao said the pursuit of closer relations takes place in a "geo-strategic environment" and certain conditions have to be met for progress to happen, without specifying what those conditions are.

Part of making progress involves "working on the different elements that do influence the broader geo-strategic space," which is part of the cautious balance that Tsai has adopted, and will continue to pursue, in terms of Taiwan-U.S. relations, she added.

Earlier this year, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) expressed similar sentiments on Taiwan-U.S. relations in an interview with Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR).

"We are not seeking full diplomatic relations with the U.S. at this moment," Wu told NPR on Sept. 23, though he added that Taiwan has been advocating for closer trade, political and security relations with the U.S.

In Hsiao and Christensen's discussion on Tuesday, the pair also touched on Taiwan's global trade relations, and how Taipei's move to ease restrictions on certain imports of U.S. pork and beef will affect such relations.

The import of U.S. pork and beef to Taiwan is not large in terms of the total amount of trade between the two countries, Hsiao said, though "politically, they have been very difficult issues."

In announcing that Taiwan would begin to allow imports of pork containing the livestock drug ractopamine and U.S. beef from cattle aged over 30 months in August, Tsai is therefore demonstrating a resolve to strengthen Taiwan's trade relations with the U.S. and its other trade partners, Hsiao said.

It is hoped that this demonstration will encourage other trade partners to establish trade agreements, Hsiao said.

(By Ozzy Yin, Yeh Su-ping and Chiang Yi-ching)

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