US legislators propose Taiwan Fellowship Act

Bill aims to help officials gain better understanding of Taiwan, reaffirm US commitment

Taiwan and U.S. flags. (Getty Images image)

Taiwan and U.S. flags. (Getty Images image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Four U.S. congressmen and senators jointly introduced the Taiwan Fellowship Act on Friday (June 26), which seeks to advance bilateral ties while better serving U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

The proposal was put forward by senators Edward Markey and Marco Rubio as well as congressmen Ted Yoho and Ami Bera, according to a press release. The bipartisan and bicameral legislation entails a two-year fellowship exchange program for American officials to live and work in Taiwan, modeled on a similar scheme with Japan, the Mansfield Fellowship Program.

The bill invokes the Taiwan Relations Act and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act as the foundation on which to further bilateral relations. It also places an emphasis on Taiwan’s role as a global leader in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic despite China’s campaign to block the country from engaging with international groups, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

Yoho believes the program will allow federal employees to “gain an insider’s perspective on the Indo-Pacific region through the eyes of a close friend and ally of the United States.” The program would demonstrate America’s unwavering commitment to Taiwan amid Beijing's attempt to isolate the island country globally, Markey said.

Rubio noted the project serves to bolster bilateral and cultural ties with Taiwan while promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific. The senator from Florida, a vocal supporter of Taiwan, has often advocated negotiating a free trade agreement with the island country and helping bolster its defense capabilities against China.