President Donald Trump on Thursday signed the Taiwan Allies and International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act, whose acronym in a remarkable coincidence spells out TAIPEI, the name of Taiwan’s capital.
The TAIPEI Act enhances U.S. support for Taiwan by encouraging other nations to engage with the island and punishing those who follow the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) orders to isolate it.
“This bipartisan legislation demands a whole-of-government approach to ramp up our support for Taiwan, and will send a strong message to nations that there will be consequences for supporting Chinese actions that undermine Taiwan,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who introduced the bill along with Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware in May.
The bill enjoyed strong bipartisan support after some revisions and passed the House on a 415-0 vote. The Senate passed the final version of the TAIPEI Act with unanimous consent on March 11.
A joint statement from Gardner and Coons highlighted the importance of the Act during the current crisis, stressing America’s determination to “support Taiwan’s participation in appropriate international organizations like the World Health Organization, which would help Taiwan respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and be able to share globally its expertise and knowledge in handling this crisis.”
Taiwan was forced into observer status at the World Health Organization (WHO) by Communist China in 2009 and was blocked altogether after the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016.
During the coronavirus crisis, WHO uncritically relayed false information provided by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and inexcusably delayed declaring a global health emergency, while Taiwan devised the world’s most effective coronavirus response – in some ways benefiting from its separation from a World Health Organization compromised by CCP politics.
Taiwan still correctly objects to its exclusion as outrageous, and at this point the rest of the world is probably suffering more than Taiwan from keeping Beijing in and Taipei out. In February, Taiwan was able to get some of its experts into an online WHO meeting about the coronavirus by working directly with WHO leaders and freezing Beijing out of the discussion. The Chinese Communist government later claimed it had approved Taiwan’s request.
As the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry pointed out in February, even after unleashing a historic global pandemic, the CCP still has enough sway over WHO to make it change its reports so they describe Taiwan as part of Communist China.
Supporters of the TAIPEI Act also said it would be an important step toward reversing China’s economic and political campaign to isolate Taiwan by bribing and intimidating its allies into abandoning the island and switching their formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing. Eight of Taiwan’s allies have done so since President Tsai’s election, leaving it with 15.
“The TAIPEI Act sends a clear message that the United States stands with Taiwan’s free-market democracy. I look forward to finding additional ways to support the positive role Taiwan plays in international affairs,” Sen. Coons said on Thursday.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the United States, on Thursday offered “big thanks to President Donald Trump and Congress’ staunch support for Taiwan.”
President Tsai said it was “gratifying” to see the TAIPEI Act signed into law, hailing it as a “testament to Taiwan-U.S. friendship and mutual support as we work together to address global threats to human health and our shared economic values.”
“The bill reflects the strength of Taiwan-U.S. ties. It also paves the way for expanded bilateral exchanges while preserving the country’s international space in the face of authoritarian China’s campaign of coercion,” said the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Chinese Communist Party is, unsurprisingly, less pleased with the TAIPEI Act. The Chinese Foreign Ministry actually threatened a “resolute strike back” if the law was implemented.
“We urge the United States to correct its mistakes, not implement the law, or obstruct the development of relations between other countries and China, otherwise it will inevitably encounter a resolute strike back by China,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman warned.
China stepped up its campaign of military intimidation against Taiwan after the coronavirus pandemic began, conducting provocative naval and air drills. Taiwanese citizens are increasingly angry about these provocations, which have included brief violations of Taiwan’s airspace by Chinese military jets.