Taiwan’s New Representative to the US Assumes Post in Washington

July 20, 2020 Updated: July 20, 2020

TAIPEI, Taiwan—President Tsai Ing-wen presided over a swear-in ceremony on July 20 for several new Taiwanese officials and diplomats, among them the island’s new de-facto ambassador to the United States.

Hsiao Bi-khim, a former lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and a senior advisor to the island government’s National Security Council, was named by Tsai as Taiwan’s new representative to the United States last month, replacing the outgoing Stanley Kao who held the post since June 2016.

The first woman to be named to the post, Hsiao said during a Monday inaugural ceremony that she sought to foster closer ties between Taiwan and the United States on multiple fronts, including economy, security, and medicine.

The swear-in ceremony on Monday was attended by Vice President Willian Lai, Premier Su Tseng-chang, and Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan, according to a press release from the President’s Office.

Aside from Hsiao, the island’s new representatives to the UK, Thailand, Slovakia, Belgium, Sweden, and India were also sworn in.

The United States, after severing official diplomatic ties with Taiwan in recognition of Beijing in 1979, has maintained a non-diplomatic relationship with the island based on the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the former has continually sold military weapons and equipment to Taiwan—much to Beijing’s ire.

The island’s defense strategy is centered around Beijing’s military threats, as the Chinese regime views Taiwan as a renegade province that must be united with the mainland, despite the fact that the self-ruled island has its own military, currency, and democratically-elected officials.

Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, during an online discussion hosted by the U.S. Foreign Press Association in early July, called on the Trump administration to exert pressure on Beijing by granting full diplomatic recognition to Taiwan, according to a report by the Taiwan-government-run Central News Agency.

The U.S. de-facto embassy on the island, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), issued a press release welcoming Hsiao on July 16.

“During her tenure in the Legislative Yuan [Taiwan’s parliament], Ms. Hsiao worked successfully with her bipartisan colleagues and with AIT to make progress on many aspects of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership, including our security cooperation, economic and commercial ties,” AIT said.

“We are confident that the U.S.-Taiwan friendship will continue to flourish during her tenure,” the office concluded.

After she was sworn in, Hsiao attended an inaugural ceremony for a new group of lawmakers joining a caucus that deals with U.S.-Taiwan policy at the 10th Legislative Yuan, the current session of Taiwan’s parliament until January 2024. The event was attended by AIT Director William Brent Christensen. 

Hsiao, speaking at the ceremony, said she will depart for Washington within a week to take up her new post.

Calling the bilateral relationship as “real friends, real progress,” Christensen pointed to the overwhelming bipartisan support in the United States for the Taiwan Travel Act and the TAIPEI Act. The two bills have both been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Christensen concluded: “On behalf of AIT, we look forward to partnering in this worthwhile endeavor to continue forging a shared future for the United States and Taiwan, and to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific region.” 

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