The attendance of the head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York at Monday’s keynote speech on protecting religious freedom at UN headquarters was a “remarkable diplomatic breakthrough,” Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.
It was the first time that a representative of Taiwan formally took part in a UN event since the Republic of China withdrew from the UN in 1971, Su said.
Su made the remarks at the Legislative Yuan when asked by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lu Sun-ling (呂孫綾) about reports that TECO in New York Director-General Lily Hsu (徐儷文) attended a speech by US President Donald Trump, which was also attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, US Vice President Mike Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via CNA
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said that the New York office received an invitation on Monday to attend the US-hosted — not UN-hosted — Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom event at the UN in New York City, where member states are meeting for the annual UN General Assembly.
Calling it “very good news,” Wu said that the nation’s participation in the event attested to warming Taiwan-US ties, and showed the world that Taiwan is a nation that champions freedom and democracy.
The nation was invited for its achievements in upholding religious freedom, which is something Taiwanese should be proud of, he added.
Despite the nation’s diplomatic plight, Taiwan-US relations have greatly improved and have remained stable thanks to efforts by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Su said.
This is evidenced by the US Congress’ passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, the Taiwan Travel Act and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, as well as the US Department of State’s sanctioning of the sale of M1A2 Abrams tanks and F-16V jets to Taiwan, Su said.
The jets would be the most advanced fighters the nation has acquired in 23 years, he added.
To buy the fleet of 66 F-16V jets, the Cabinet set aside a special budget of NT$250 billion, which on Monday passed a preliminary review by the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
Su called on the legislature to support international exchanges which the government engages in, especially exchanges with the US, which would leverage Taiwan's exchanges with other nations.
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