Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) on Tuesday hosted dozens of international lawmakers who back sanctions on China for aggression toward Taiwan, a show of support for Taipei amid military pressure from Beijing.
The unannounced gathering of about 60 lawmakers from Europe, Asia and Africa at Taiwan’s sweeping hilltop diplomatic mansion in Washington — Twin Oaks — is the latest move in Taipei’s efforts to persuade fellow democracies to stand against China since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine heightened concerns that Beijing could attempt to take the nation by force.
The group, consisting of members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) gathering in Washington this week, is expected to sign a pledge to push their governments to adopt “greater deterrence against military or other coercive” actions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) against Taiwan, a draft seen by Reuters says.
Photo: Tyrone Siu, Reuters
“We will campaign to ensure our governments signal to the PRC that military aggression towards Taiwan will cost Beijing dearly. Economic and political measures, including meaningful sanctions, should be considered to deter military escalation, and to ensure trade and other exchanges with Taiwan can continue unimpeded,” the draft said.
It added that their countries’ ties to Taiwan were not Beijing’s to determine, and that they would push to increase mutual visits by lawmakers.
Sources familiar with the issue have told Reuters that Washington is considering sanctions against China to deter it from invading Taiwan, with Taipei calling on the EU to do the same.
Hsiao, speaking to the lawmakers — who according to a guest list seen by Reuters hailed from states including the UK, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Lithuania, Ukraine, New Zealand and the Netherlands — told the gathering: “It is important to demonstrate to the bully that we have friends, too.”
“We are not seeking to provoke the bully, but neither will we bow to their pressure,” Hsiao said.
She welcomed two Ukrainian representatives at the event.
“We certainly hope that as the international community stands with Ukraine, that the international community will also stand with Taiwan ... that together we can deter the further aggression coming from China,” she said.
The IPAC pledge, which was expected to be signed yesterday, also calls for countries to secure supply chains from forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region, and to pursue sanctions on Chinese officials for abuses in Hong Kong and on Chinese companies that support Russia’s military industry.
China’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, who acts as the US’ IPAC cochair with US Senator Marco Rubio, told an IPAC briefing at the US Capitol that a US bill to support Taiwan would face some changes during a scheduled review this week, but that the “thrust” would remain the same.
An initial version of that bill threatens severe sanctions against China for any aggression against Taiwan, and would provide Taiwan with billions of US dollars in foreign military financing in coming years.
Rubio said he believed the administration of US President Joe Biden was divided over how to approach prospective sanctions against China, and that although Beijing appeared to be taking steps to insulate itself from such actions, Washington needed be clear about the costs of hostility across the Taiwan Strait.
“It’s important for us to be prepared to proactively outline — whether it’s through legislation or through an executive announcement, exactly what the economic consequences will be if such an act of aggression goes forward,” Rubio told the briefing.
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of
GOOD NEWS: Although open civic spaces are shrinking in Asia-Pacific countries and territories, Taiwan’s openness is a positive sign, an expert said Taiwan remains the only country in Asia with an “open” civic space for the fifth consecutive year, the Civicus Monitor said in a report released yesterday. The People Power Under Attack 2023 report named Taiwan as one of only 37 open countries or territories out of 198 globally, and the only one in Asia. Compiled by Civicus — a global alliance of civil society organizations dedicated to bolstering civil action — the ranking compiled annually since 2017 measures the state of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression around the world. Researchers assign each country or territory one of five rankings describing the