The Canadian House of Commons on Thursday unanimously passed the first reading of a proposal to create a legal framework for efforts to strengthen relations with Taiwan.
The Canada-Taiwan Relations Framework Act was introduced by Canadian Member of Parliament Michael Cooper, who said that not having a formal diplomatic relationship with Taiwan has complicated interactions between the two nations.
Taiwan is one of Canada’s largest trading partners, and the two share strong people-to-people links and common values, he said.
Taiwan “is a vibrant economy and one of the world’s top 20 economies. It is time Canada’s relations with Taiwan reflect the reality that Taiwan is today and this legislation is an important step towards that,” he said.
The proposed act would permit the office of Taiwan’s representative in Canada to be referred to as the Taiwan Representative Office. The office is currently called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, the name that is used in many countries that follow a “one China” policy and maintain no diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
The proposed act also calls for preserving and promoting close relations between Canadians and Taiwanese, including in economic, cultural and legal affairs.
Canada should conduct foreign relations on the basis that peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region are in the political, security and economic interests of the nation, and are matters of international concern, the bill says.
It further stipulates that any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, or by boycotts or embargoes, would constitute a threat to the peace and security of the Indo-
Pacific region and be of grave concern to Canada.
The proposed act supports the peaceful evolution of democratic political institutions in the Indo-Pacific region, it says. It also supports participation of Taiwan in multilateral international organizations, including the WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
It also encourages other states and non-governmental organizations to support that goal “so that Taiwan may play a role that is commensurate with its position in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The act exempts the Taiwanese president and senior government officials from having to obtain visas, as stipulated in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, when the primary purpose of their visit to Canada is not official.
At an online press conference after introducing the act to the House of Commons, Cooper underlined that the proposed act does not breach Ottawa’s “one China” policy because when establishing formal ties with Beijing in 1970, Canada only “took note” of its claim that Taiwan is part of China.
This means there is flexibility in interactions between Canada and Taiwan, he said.
Asked if Canada should worry about protests from Beijing, Cooper said the introduction of the act has nothing to do with China.
“Taiwan is simply too important. It’s time we move forward to engage with Taiwan and enhance the relationship,” he said.
There is a need for a clearly defined framework that specifies how the goal is to be achieved in respect of economic, cultural and legal affairs, he said.
The act passed a first reading before the House of Commons goes into recess later this month, paving the way for its progress in the new session, which begins in September.
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