February 04, 2022

Menendez, Rubio, Curtis, Pappas Introduce Legislation to Rename Taiwan's De Facto Diplomatic Outpost

WASHINGTON — Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced the Taiwan Representative Office Act (S. 3573), a bipartisan and bicameral bill that would direct the U.S. Secretary of State to enter into negotiations to rename the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington, D.C. the “Taiwan Representative Office,” which better reflects its status as Taiwan’s de facto diplomatic mission to the United States. Companion legislation was introduced by Congressmen John Curtis (R-UT) and Chris Pappas (D-NH) in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

 

Rubio is a senior member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. 

“At a time of unprecedented international tension and as Beijing continues to seek to bully and coerce Taiwan, this important bill demonstrates the United States’ critical support for the people of Taiwan, and for Taiwan’s right, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, to determine its own future and to be able to enjoy greater respect and diplomatic space as a member of the international community,” Menendez said.

“Taiwan is an indispensable partner of the United States and an exemplary beacon of democracy in the Indo-Pacific region,” Rubio said. “I can think of no better way to recognize Taiwan’s contributions to global stability than by renaming their office in Washington, D.C., the seat of American democracy, to better reflect its actual purpose. The U.S. must make clear that, despite all efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to intimidate and coerce Taiwan, hostile powers have no right to claim sovereignty over democratic countries.”

“It is long overdue to correctly recognize the de facto embassy of our longtime friend and ally, Taiwan, as the Taiwan Representative Office,” Curtis said. “We shouldn’t tolerate pressure from China to undermine the sovereignty of the Taiwanese people, which China is also attempting to do by pressuring Lithuania and other countries. America should stand by our democratic allies, and always stand with our friends around the world facing pressure and coercion from authoritarian regimes.”

“As China continues to bully and intimidate Taiwan, this bipartisan legislation to properly recognize their de facto embassy demonstrates our continued support for the sovereignty of our democratic ally, Taiwan,” Pappas said. “We must take this step to strengthen our diplomatic partnership with Taiwan and counter China’s repeated attempts to threaten and coerce nations around the globe.”

Background:

  • The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States represents Taiwan in the U.S. in the absence of formal diplomatic relations and a formal embassy, functioning as a de facto embassy.
  • In November, Lithuania, a NATO ally, allowed Taiwan to open an unofficial embassy using its own name, rather than China’s preferred name "Chinese Taipei." 
  • Viewing the move as a violation of the "One China" policy, Beijing recalled its ambassador to Lithuania, downgraded diplomatic relations with Vilnius, and barred all imports of Lithuanian goods.
  • Reports have now emerged that Beijing is pressuring European companies to stop using Lithuanian products in their supply chain — an unprecedented intervention that may violate international trade rules.
  • In a measure of economic support, Taiwan set up a $1B credit program to fund projects by Lithuanian and Taiwanese companies and created a $200M investment fund to help Lithuania.
  • The U.S. renaming TECRO demonstrates solidarity with Lithuania, an NATO ally. 
  • In September, news broke that the Biden Administration had plans to rename TECRO to TRO. However, seven months later, this step has still not been taken.

 

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Juan Pachon