TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — At an annual political meeting between American and Australian foreign affairs and defense personnel, officials made a joint statement on Tuesday (July 28) highlighting Taiwan’s significance in the Indo-Pacific region and expressing the U.S. and Australia’s continued support of Taiwan’s international participation.
In a joint statement issued Tuesday, U.S. and Australian secretaries and ministers reiterated "Taiwan’s important role in the Indo-Pacific region." They also emphasized their intent to continue unofficial ties with Taiwan and back its membership in international organizations "where statehood is not a prerequisite."
Lai I-chong (賴怡忠), CEO of The Prospect Foundation, told Liberty Times on Wednesday that this is the first time Taiwan was mentioned in a more explicit manner. He noted that the statement’s content was similar to the part of the "Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act," which encourages Taiwan’s international participation.
Lai pointed out that Australia and New Zealand are both significant partners in Taiwan’s New Southbound policy. However, according to Lai, Australia will most likely be the first to expand bilateral ties with Taiwan.
Taiwan and Australia can work together to seek consensus on the direction of regional strategic security. Lai said that as the Australian public is now worried about China's global power and the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Taiwan can provide assistance in both respects in order to strengthen Taiwan-Australia exchanges.
Regarding the nation’s relationship with New Zealand, Lai said that he would like to thank Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for her support but suggested to Arden that she use the "most comfortable and unconstrained" approach to organically enhance bilateral relations.
In a speech to the local Chinese business community last week, Arden spoke out against Beijing's pressure to exclude Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization (WHO) and said this issue is important to all Kiwis.
The New Zealand Initiative, a public policy think tank, recently recommended that New Zealand assess opening its border to travelers from Taiwan and COVID-19-free Pacific islands. Eric Crampton, the chief economist of the think tank, stated, “Taiwan has no community transmission and has pandemic control systems at least as strong as New Zealand’s.”