The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday announced that it is to reopen a representative office in Guam, citing the growing strategic importance of the Pacific region and a strong Taiwan-US partnership.
Preparations for reopening the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Guam were already under way, the ministry said yesterday in a statement.
The de facto embassy in the US’ unincorporated, organized territory was closed in August 2017 during the tenure of former minister of foreign affairs David Lee (李大維), along with offices in Norway and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
Due to budget and personnel considerations, the government in 2017 deemed it necessary to temporarily halt operation of the office in Guam, the ministry said.
With the ministry’s budget rising steadily from 2018, Taiwan and the US have forged an increasingly strong global partnership and the strategic importance of the Pacific region has continued to grow, leading to the ministry’s decision to reinstate the office, it said.
The US has paid increased attention to the Pacific region, as it launched the US Indo-Pacific Strategy in 2018, and the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report and a report titled A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision last year, the ministry said.
Re-establishing the representative office in Guam would facilitate economic and trade cooperation, and exchanges between Taiwan and the greater western Pacific region, deepen relations with its Pacific allies and increase multilateral exchanges, it said.
Taiwan in September last year lost two Pacific allies — the Solomon Islands and Kiribati — within a week amid Beijing’s pressure.
It now maintains formal relations with 15 nations, including four in the Pacific — Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands.
In 2017 and 2018, then-Guam governor Eddie Calvo led delegations to Taiwan and expressed his support for re-establishing the office when he met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), as well as boosting bilateral tourism and economic exchanges, the ministry said.
Taiwan maintains steady economic and trade relations with Guam, as Taiwanese enterprises — such as Lih Pao Construction (麗寶建設), Chung Kuo Insurance (兆豐保險), First Commercial Bank (第一商銀), Asia Cement Corp (亞泥) and China Airlines (華航) — have invested in the territory, it said.
Medical tourism from Guam to Taiwan has also gained momentum, it added.
After the reopening of the Guam office, the number of representative offices in the US would increase to 13: Washington, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Chicago, Honolulu, Denver, Miami and Guam, the ministry said.
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