U.S. envoy Brent Christensen, the de facto American ambassador to Taiwan, on Monday pledged continuing U.S. support for Taiwan to join international organizations like Interpol and the World Health Organization (WHO) despite China’s campaign to isolate the island nation.
At a symposium held on the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, Christensen called for Taiwan to be granted “full membership in international organizations that do not require statehood” and “meaningful participation” in those that do. Taiwan exists in an uneasy autonomous relationship with mainland China, which frequently threatens to use military force against the island should it declare full independence.
Christensen named the World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO, Interpol, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as important examples of organizations that should accept Taiwan. He noted Taiwan was invited to annual WHA meetings from 2009 to 2016, at which point it was “suddenly no longer welcome to attend” because a more independence-minded candidate, Tsai Ing-wen, won the Taiwanese presidential election.
“We continue to work with other like-minded countries to lobby international organizations to put health, security and economic prosperity above politics,” Christensen said.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week called on Interpol and the ICAO to invite a Taiwanese delegation to their upcoming assemblies, insisting China has no right to represent Taiwan at such meetings.
Christensen is the director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which serves as the unofficial U.S. embassy and is significantly larger than many officially-recognized U.S. embassies around the world.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan was in Taipei on Monday to attend a ceremony at the new AIT office complex. Ryan hailed the friendship between the United States and Taiwan as a relationship “grounded in history, shared values, and our common embrace of democracy, free markets, the rule of law, religious freedom, and human rights.”
“Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner and a force for good in the world,” said Ryan. “We want the rest of the world to be more like Taiwan.”
“Our commitment to Taiwan’s security remains rock solid,” he said.
China decided to observe the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act by conducting provocative military exercises around the island. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army claimed these exercises were routine and “necessary” drills, but they were denounced by U.S. officials as attempts at “coercion” and intimidation.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense called the Chinese maneuvers an “irresponsible” threat to regional stability.