Coast guard cooperation signifies strong Taiwan-U.S. relations: FM

03/26/2021 08:47 PM
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From left: Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu, AIT Director Brent Christensen and CGA Director-General Chou Mei-wu. CNA photo March 26, 2021
From left: Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu, AIT Director Brent Christensen and CGA Director-General Chou Mei-wu. CNA photo March 26, 2021

Taipei, March 26 (CNA) The signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Taiwan and the United States to establish a Coast Guard Working Group (CGWG) signifies the strong relations between the two countries, Taiwan's foreign minister said Friday.

At a ceremony to mark the signing of the MOU held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) noted that it was the first to be signed by Taiwan and the U.S. during the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.

"Since President Biden's administration took office on Jan. 20, we have seen that relations between Taiwan and the U.S. have not only continued uninterrupted, but, as the U.S. has described, are rock solid," Wu said.

The MOU to establish a CGWG was signed hours earlier by Hsiao Bi- khim (蕭美琴), Taiwan's representative to the U.S., and Ingrid Larson, managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), in Washington.

Speaking at the ceremony in Taipei, AIT Director Brent Christensen described Taiwan as the "right partner" for the U.S. to promote regional maritime security.

"Through this formal cooperation, we look forward to building our U.S.-Taiwan Coast Guard cooperation in areas such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, information-sharing and working more closely together to tackle other global challenges," he said.

Chou Mei-wu (周美伍), director-general of the Coast Guard Administration, revealed that coast guard agencies from the two sides have been conducting exercises and exchanges on a regular basis and he expressed belief that such cooperation will be further strengthened by the new accord.

The MOU came less than two months after China's Coast Guard Law took effect on Feb. 1.

That law alarmed the region because it allows the country's coast guard ships to use weapons against foreign vessels operating in all waters claimed by China under certain conditions.

Article 49 of the law permits Chinese Coast Guard personnel to use weapons without the need to issue a warning when there is not enough time to do so or when issuing a warning may result in a more serious situation.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a senior analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said the CGWG can be viewed as a response by the two countries to China's Coast Guard Law.

The signing of the MOU also signifies that Washington's Taiwan strategy has shifted from one of ambiguity to one with greater clarity, he said.

Su suggested that Taiwan's Coast Guard should strengthen its capability and consider the use of sonic weapons, water cannons and other non-lethal weapons as deterrents against possible harassment from Chinese Coast Guard ships in the future.

(By Chung Yu-chen, Wang Yang-yu and Emerson Lim)

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