House Republicans Call on Blinken to Extend APEC Invitation to Taiwan President

House Republicans Call on Blinken to Extend APEC Invitation to Taiwan President
Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas) at the Protect Children's Innocence press event outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 20, 2022. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)
Frank Fang

Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas) has sent a second letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the State Department to extend a formal invitation to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to a U.S.-hosted summit in November.

The Sept. 19 letter, co-signed by 24 House Republicans, stated that Ms. Tsai should be entitled to a seat at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' summit in San Francisco, despite opposition from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“Denying the inclusion of Taiwanese leadership in APEC will only further embolden the CCP and be remembered as an immense failure of the Biden administration’s mission to uphold peace and stability in the region,” the letter says.

APEC is an inter-governmental forum of 21 Asia-Pacific economies, including Australia, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, and the United States. Taiwan’s official title at the forum is “Chinese Taipei,” a name Taiwan also uses at the Olympics.

Claiming Taiwan to be a part of its territory, China has opposed the idea of allowing the island’s presidents to participate in the APEC summit. As a result, Taiwan has been represented by a representative or envoy appointed by the president at the annual event. Last year, Ms. Tsai appointed Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan-based chipmaker TSMC, as her representative to the APEC summit, which was hosted by Thailand.

The Republican lawmakers urged Mr. Blinken to set a new example for other APEC members given that the United States is the host nation this year. Peru will host the annual summit next year.

“We encourage you to set a new precedent for APEC’s members by using our platform as the 2023 host nation to invite Taiwan to fully participate in the November summit,” the letter says.

“We also urge you to acknowledge the expressed wishes of the Honorable Tsai Ing-wen and the Taiwanese public for her inclusion in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation,” it says.

‘Hypocritical to the Rest of the World’

Mr. Gooden sent a first letter to Mr. Blinken on the issue in April. According to the most recent letter, the secretary of state did not “adequately” respond to the initial letter.

“Unfortunately, your agency’s response failed to adequately address our request or provide a plan of action to officially extend an invitation to President Tsai Ing-wen. Since this year’s summit is quickly approaching, we would like to reiterate Taiwan is a full APEC member in good standing and deserves fair and equal treatment on par with other APEC member states,” the letter says.

The last time that the APEC summit was held in the continental United States was 1993 when it was held on Blake Island, Seattle. The only other time the United States was the host nation was in 2011, when the summit was held in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Republican lawmakers noted that withholding an invitation to Ms. Tsai would be seen as a rollback of bilateral ties, considering the “significant progress” the two sides have made in economic and trade partnerships with initiatives in recent years, such as the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade.

“Withholding an invitation to President Tsai Ing-wen for the APEC leaders’ summit shortly after making major economic and trade commitments would undo years of bilateral progress with Taiwan and portray our government as hypocritical to the rest of the world,” the letter says.

Currently, the United States and Taiwan are not formal diplomatic allies, ever since Washington changed its diplomatic recognition in favor of Beijing in 1979.

‘Vocal Ally of Taiwan’

The GOP lawmakers reminded Mr. Blinken that their request to invite Ms. Tsai came amid China’s persistent aggressive behaviors against the island.

“This request comes as the Chinese Communist Party steadily increases its hostility and unwarranted measures against Taiwan and other players in the region,” the letter says.

In recent years, China has stepped up its efforts to intimidate Taiwan by sending warplanes and naval vessels to its nearby waters and airspace. On Sept. 19, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense issued a statement calling on China to “take responsibility and immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions,” after detecting 55 Chinese warplanes and seven vessels near the island within the span of 24 hours.

The CCP is also targeting Taiwan with disinformation campaigns and economic coercion, in order to sway public opinion as it continues its attempts to persuade the island’s population to accept its rule.

“The United States must remain a vocal ally of Taiwan while continuing to bolster bilateral trade relations and strengthening our economic partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region,” the letter adds.

On Sept. 7, Ms. Tsai was asked by local reporters if she would attend the APEC summit in person this year. In response, she said that like every president before her, there had always been a desire to break the precedent set when APEC was founded, but it has been a formidable challenge to make a change. As a result, she said she would still appoint a representative to participate in this year’s summit.

The co-signees of the letter include Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.), chairman of the House Ethics Committee, and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

The House Republicans asked Mr. Blinken to respond to their letter and plan of action before Oct. 19.

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.