The TAIPEI Act Is an Act of Wishful Thinking

The Act is unlikely to achieve its stated goal of expanding Taiwan’s diplomatic space.

The Diplomat
Date: November 13, 2019
By: Jansen Tham

President Tsai Ing-wen (R) waves alongside U.S. Senator Cory Gardner during his visit to Taiwan, June 2, 2019. Gardner is one of the sponsors of the TAIPEI Act.
Credit: Presidential Office, Republic of China (Taiwan)

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act in late October 2019. If the TAIPEI Act passes in the House of Representatives, it will be passed to President Donald Trump to sign the bill into law.

The Act represents American lawmakers’ carrots-and-sticks approach to counter Chinese coercion against Taiwan, which today has just 15 diplomatic allies. Seven countries have broken off relations with Taipei in favor of Beijing since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016. The TAIPEI Act involves the United States enhancing “economic, security, and diplomatic engagement” with countries that have “strengthened, enhanced or upgraded relations with Taiwan,” while also punitively reducing U.S. engagement with countries whose actions “undermine Taiwan.”

Other provisions in the Act include calling on the U.S. administration to advocate for Taiwan’s membership in “international organizations in which statehood is not a requirement” and for Taiwan to be granted observer status in international bodies where formal recognition is a prerequisite. It further proposes signing a U.S.-Taiwan free trade agreement.

Given the bipartisan support for Taiwan in Congress and the broad anti-China sentiment in Washington, the bill will almost certainly be passed into law. This follows closely on the heels of the Taiwan Travel Act – another piece of legislation that displays Washington’s support for Taipei – passed in March this year.    [FULL  STORY]

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