Taiwan and the US on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a coast guard working group, the first official document inked by the two nations since US President Joe Biden took office in January.
The memorandum was signed by American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Managing Director Ingrid Larson and Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) in Washington.
The memorandum “affirms a relationship with the common objectives of preserving maritime resources; reducing illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; and participating in joint maritime search and rescue as well as maritime environmental response events,” the AIT said in a news statement yesterday.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
“The United States supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation and contributions to issues of global concern, including in maritime security and safety, and in building networks to facilitate maritime law enforcement information exchange and international cooperation,” it said.
Based on the document, the two sides would establish a working group between Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and the US Coast Guard (USCG) for communication and information sharing, and to build a stronger partnership on maritime rescue missions and maritime law enforcement, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) wrote on Facebook yesterday.
“We are of a maritime country, and ocean is inscribed in the DNA of Taiwanese,” Tsai said.
Photo courtesy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office via CNA
As a responsible stakeholder of the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan is willing to make more contributions in maritime affairs, and aims to defend a free and open Indo-Pacific region, she said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday afternoon hosted a news conference in Taipei marking the signing of the document.
The signing of the memorandum shows that bilateral relations are “rock solid” and that there was no transition period to the new US administration, he said.
Connected to the world by ocean, Taiwan is committed to defending freedom, democracy and human rights with the US and other like-minded partners, he said, adding that the nation hopes to expand maritime cooperation with other countries as well.
“This MOU formalizes our already robust and longstanding cooperation with Taiwan’s coast guard,” AIT Director Brent Christensen said, describing Taiwan’s coast guard as “highly versatile in a variety of skills.”
Taiwan’s coast guard regularly takes part in training exercises at the US Coast Guard Academy, and it also invites USCG members to visit Taiwan to increase bilateral interactions, CGA Director-General Chou Mei-wu (周美伍) said.
Trained as a navy officer, Chou served as National Security Bureau special correspondent in Washington before he assumed his current position in January.
The CGA has been working to increase the coast guard’s capabilities to enforce maritime law and defend local fishers’ rights, Chou said, expressing the hope to work with more allies to defend stability in the region.
At the end of the news conference, Chou presented to Christensen a model of the new 4,000-tonne frigate Chiayi, which bears the name “Taiwan” in addition to the “Republic of China (ROC),” as instructed by Tsai.
The news conference was also attended by Japanese Representative to Taiwan Hiroyasu Izumi, British Representative to Taiwan John Dennis and Canadian Representative to Taiwan Jordan Reeves, as well as other foreign envoys.
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