Taiwan Looks to Be ‘Full Member’ of US Indo-Pacific Economic Framework

By: The Epoch Times

A senior Taiwanese minister said the self-ruled island is looking to be a “full member” of a U.S.-led economic framework in the Indo-Pacific region, given that Taipei is a “safe and reliable” partner and a key part of the global supply chain.

Taiwan is very willing to support the U.S. Indo-Pacific Economic Framework,” Chief Trade Negotiator John Deng said on March 9, as he addressed a virtual webinar on Taiwan’s role in global supply chains, hosted by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think-tank.

On Feb. 11, the White House released the 18-page Indo-Pacific Strategy white paper (pdf) as the United States aims to push back against what it sees as China’s bid to create a regional sphere of influence and become the world’s most influential power. The report said regional governments should have the freedom to make their own sovereign choices, free of coercion.

The paper also mentioned the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that the Biden administration plans to launch early this year. The multilateral partnership will serve as the basis for increased U.S. trade, investment, and diplomatic relations with the Indo-Pacific, which the Trump Administration recognized as the “world’s center of gravity,” according to the report.

“We believe our participation will further strengthen this framework,” Deng said while delivering his keynote remarks on March 9. “Taiwan is a reliable and stable partner politically and economically.”

The Taiwanese minister without portfolio said the island has actively maintained supply chain security and never economically coerced other countries. The message refers to the unfair trade practices of its biggest neighbor across the Taiwan Strait—China.

Over the past two years, Beijing has limited imports from Australia, including beef, coal, and grapes, in retaliation for its calling for an investigation into the origin of COVID-19. China also imposed tariffs on the country’s wine and barley.

Meanwhile, viewing Taiwan as its own territory, China has been trying to strategically marginalize Taiwan on a global stage, while wearing down its air force with repeated incursions. The island saw the record number of 961 Chinese military incursions into their sea and air spaces over 239 days in 2021, according to Taiwanese media.

“China’s political and military ambition, also let the world understand that they pose a threat to the world order,” Deng said at the online event. “I would like to urge the U.S. government, and I hope all the audience participating in the seminar today can help us convey this message to the U.S. government, that Taiwan would like to be a full member of this framework.”

Supply chain cooperation between Taiwan, a major semiconductor producer, and the United States was vital for both countries, he added. Washington has yet to spell out what exactly Biden’s envisaged economic framework will entail.

China has condemned the U.S. Indo-Pacific push, saying Washington is creating “exclusive clubs.”

Asked about Deng’s remarks, a U.S. administration official told Reuters the United States was engaging with Indo-Pacific partners as it was developing the framework but didn’t currently have “membership” details to announce.

“That being said, the U.S. is committed to deepening our trade and investment relationship with Taiwan,” the official said.

A senior U.S. diplomat said last month his country had “no intention” of engaging with China in its Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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