TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Senate's newly passed China competition bill presses for the lifting of remaining restrictions on diplomatic exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan, particularly a previous ban on the wearing of uniforms and the displaying of symbols of sovereignty such as Taiwan's flag and emblems.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed The Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 with a commanding majority of 68 to 32. Primarily designed to strengthen U.S. competitiveness with China in technology and research, it also includes four sections related to Taiwan: Enhancing of U.S.-Taiwan partnership, Taiwan Fellowship Program, Treatment of Taiwan government, and Taiwan symbols of sovereignty.
The first section calls for a continuation of ongoing exchanges and support for talks with Taiwan on a bilateral trade agreement, while it also calls for the establishment of the "United States-Taiwan Cultural Exchange Foundation." The second section calls for the creation of the "Taiwan Fellowship Act," which would enhance people-to-people exchanges by enabling U.S. personnel to learn Mandarin and deepen their understanding of Taiwan's "political economy."
The third section eliminates the term "Taiwan authorities" and codifies the lifting of limits on exchanges between U.S. and Taiwan officials launched under the Trump administration. However, it stops short of providing diplomatic recognition to Taiwan or altering the official U.S. stance on Taiwan's international status.
The fourth section calls for an end, no later than 90 days after the enactment of the act, to limits on the display of symbols of Taiwanese sovereignty on the part of its military personnel or representative office staff, including Taiwan's flag and "corresponding emblems or insignia of military units" for "official purposes." It defines such purposes as wearing official uniforms, conducting government-hosted ceremonies or functions, and posting engagements with Taiwan on State Department social media.
It closed by again adding the caveat that this should not be interpreted as meaning the U.S. has issued official diplomatic recognition to Taiwan or changed its official position on its international status.