Fri, Feb 14, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan invited as observer to US-led freedom alliance

Staff writer with CNA

Taiwan has been invited to join the US-led International Religious Freedom Alliance as an observer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday, in response to reports that the US Department of State has excluded Taiwan from the 27-country alliance, despite Taiwan’s financial support.

“Beijing brought pressure on multiple countries involved in the campaign to make sure Taiwan was not included,” an op-ed by Josh Rogin published in the Washington Post on Wednesday said.

The observer status “has not been acknowledged by the State Department publicly anywhere,” he wrote.

“How can the United States government push other countries to include Taiwan if the State Department won’t include Taiwan in its own initiatives?” he asked.

Asked for a comment on Wednesday, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that Taiwan has been invited to the alliance as an observer to continue the nation’s contribution of democratic values to the Indo-Pacific region.

Taiwan and the US share common values in democracy, freedom and human rights, while maintaining close collaboration in promoting religious freedom across the world, Ou said.

Last year, Taiwan joined the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, an initiative launched by the US the previous year to bring together foreign officials at the ministerial level, civil society representatives and victims of religious persecution to discuss religious freedom violations worldwide, she said.

Its delegates at the event were the Taiwanese Representative to the US Stanley Kuo (高碩泰) and Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Pusin Tali, Ou said.

Last year, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback also attended a regional religious forum hosted by Taiwan, titled “A Civil Society Dialogue on Securing Religious Freedom in the Indo-Pacific Region,” Ou said.

The ministry and the State Department have an effective communication channel and will continue to deepen the partnership between the two nations, she added.

The alliance was launched by the US Department of State on Wednesday last week.

It is a network of countries fully committed to advancing freedom of religion around the world, while alliance members are committed to pursuing an inclusive approach, the alliance said.

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