Taiwan inks MOU with US to improve consular assistance

Consular functions to better protect rights and welfare of Taiwanese and American citizens

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(By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan and the United States on Friday (September 13) signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate consular assistance and institutionalize consular functions for better protection of Taiwanese and American nationals in each country.

Louis M. Huang (黃敏境), deputy representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), and John Norris, managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan, signed the MOU Regarding Certain Consular Functions in Washington on behalf of their respective countries, according to a TECRO statement.

The signing of the MOU was witnessed by U.S. Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary Karin King and Office of Taiwan Coordination Director Ingrid Larson, among others, TECRO said.

Under the MOU, consular functions on both sides are expected to be institutionalized to better protect the rights and welfare of citizens of both countries, the office said. For example, if a Taiwanese citizen is arrested in the U.S., American law enforcement authorities will be expected to immediately inform the detainee that he or she has the right to ask that TECRO be notified and to request a visit by a representative of the office, according to the MOU.

If in the interest of privacy, however, the Taiwanese detainee does not wish to make such requests, U.S. authorities will abide by that decision, the office said. Based on the principle of reciprocity, the consular notification will also apply to American citizens in Taiwan, the MOU states.

As Taiwan and the U.S. commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the MOU is expected to enhance the substantive cooperation between the two sides, TECRO said. The MOU is reflective of the enduring partnership between Taiwan and the U.S., which was forged based on their shared values of freedom, democracy, and respect for fundamental human rights, TECRO said.

The TRA was signed into American law and became effective in January 1979, a few months after the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The AIT, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan, was established that same year, in accordance with the TRA, a U.S. domestic law that defines it non-diplomatic relations with Taiwan.