US, Taiwan Discuss Broadening Taiwan’s International Participation

State Department — The United States and Taiwan are exploring ways to expand Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations system and other international forums, as well as addressing a range of global challenges, including public health, aviation safety and climate change.

The most recent routine consultation between the U.S. and Taiwan took place Wednesday, days after the Chinese delegation at COP28 opposed calls to include Taiwan in the United Nations climate talks in Dubai.

All participants in the latest U.S.-Taiwan talks “recognized the importance of working closely with likeminded partners who share our concerns regarding attempts to exclude Taiwan from the international community,” according to the U.S. State Department in a statement.

Taiwan Relations Act

Senior American officials have said Washington’s “One China” policy is “distinct” from Beijing’s “One China” principle. The U.S. policy is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Communiques and the Six Assurances. China has objected to the Taiwan Relations Act and deemed it as invalid.

The Taiwan Relations Act has stated that “nothing in this Act may be construed as a basis for supporting the exclusion or expulsion of Taiwan from continued membership in any international financial institution or any other international organization.”

The Chinese Communist Party has never ruled Taiwan but claims sovereignty over the island, which became home to the Chinese Nationalist government after its defeat in 1949. During the U.N. climate talks held in the United Arab Emirates, Chinese officials lodged a protest after calls to include Taiwan’s participation in the climate summit by other countries.

“China has noted that during the meeting a handful of countries ignore the fact that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and make noises about the participation by the Taiwan authorities in the COP,” a member of the Chinese delegation said via a translator in the plenary hall in Dubai.

Wednesday, officials from the State Department and Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs discussed near-term opportunities to support Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) and other global public health bodies, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as well as Taiwan’s meaningful participation in other multilateral organizations.

World Health Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization

The Beijing government has been blocking Taiwan’s representation at WHA meetings after the self-ruled democracy elected Tsai Ing-wen, a China skeptic, as president in 2016.

China has also blocked Taiwan’s participation in ICAO assemblies since 2013.

Since the U.S. switched its diplomatic recognition from the government of Taipei to Beijing in 1979, Washington has insisted that the two sides should resolve their political disputes peacefully.

Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said “fundamental differences” over Taiwan persist in Washington’s relationship with Beijing.

The top U.S. diplomat on China said the United States will continue to implement the Taiwan Relations Act and help Taiwan with its defense needs, renewing the U.S. commitment to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

In recent months, China has been increasing its military activities near the strait.  The United States has voiced concerns about any Chinese interference through military coercion, as Taiwan prepares for a presidential election in January 2024.

“I think what we can do is to insist that the people in Taiwan have an opportunity to vote freely on January 13,” Burns told an audience during a seminar hosted by the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations.

In Beijing, Chinese officials said the election in Taiwan “is purely China’s internal affair.”

“Taiwan independence” means war and “Taiwan independence” is a dead end, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a recent briefing.

In a recent interview with VOA, U.S. Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Matt Murray said, “We certainly want to make sure there are opportunities for engagement” between the U.S. and Taiwan in international economic forums, as Taiwan is one of the top trading partners and investors in the United States.

Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, represented Taiwan during the APEC summit in San Francisco in mid-November, where he held talks with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

The two discussed the U.S.-Taiwan “relationship on the economy and technology,” Harris said in a social media post on X, formerly Twitter. Chang also had a pull-aside meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during the APEC meetings, according to Murray.

The last U.S.-Taiwan working group meeting on international organizations took place in April.