Vice President Lai Ching-te and his delegation to attend the inauguration of Honduran President Xiomara Castro stopped over in Los Angeles, arriving on January 25 local time (January 26 Taipei time), where the vice president met via videoconference with numerous US political leaders. Following the meeting, Representative to the US Bi-khim Hsiao (蕭美琴) delivered a briefing on their discussions.
In her briefing, Representative Hsiao stated that Vice President Lai had engaged with multiple members of the US Congress, and that as the vice president was making a stopover in the US on his way to Honduras, he mainly spoke with members representing districts in the Western US, including southern California and Arizona (the area served by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles) as well as Utah (the area served by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco). In all, the vice president spoke with 17 members of the US Congress.
Representative Hsiao said that the vice president first met with Congressman John Curtis of Utah, who was working in Taiwan as a Mormon missionary when the Taiwan Relations Act was passed in 1979, has long supported Taiwan, and has a deep friendship with our country. Vice President Lai also spoke with another congressman from Utah, Burgess Owens, a former professional American football player and Super Bowl winner.
Representative Hsiao noted that these two Utah congressmen have always been strong supporters of Taiwan, and recalled that when she assumed her post in Washington, DC a year and a half ago at a point when the COVID-19 pandemic was very severe, she conducted her meetings via videoconference, but the congress members from Utah were quite happy to meet her at our Twin Oaks Estate.
Representative Hsiao mentioned that Congress members Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania acted on their own initiative a few days ago to write a letter to US Vice President Kamala Harris and suggest that, during her attendance at the inauguration of President Castro in Honduras, she demonstrate America's friendly ties with Taiwan. These two congressmen were both eager to speak with Vice President Lai via videoconference, and welcomed him enthusiastically.
Representative Hsiao added that the vice president also met with Senator Ed Markey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, who co-sponsored the Taiwan Fellowship Act last year in the US Senate, as well as other Taiwan-related legislation. Senator Markey has long supported and shown concern for Taiwan, and during his discussion with the vice president expressed strong interest in mutual cooperation in such areas as Taiwan's security, bilateral economic ties, and cultural issues. On climate change, Senator Markey expressed hope for closer cooperation under the Taiwan-US Global Cooperation and Training Framework, as well as more international cooperation in this area.
Representative Hsiao said that the vice president has also interacted with US House members from California, including Representative Mark Takano, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, who visited Taiwan last November, as well as other House members from both the Democratic and Republican parties. Each of the Congress members welcomed Vice President Lai to southern California in their capacity as local community leaders, made remarks, and spoke of actions they have taken over the years to support Taiwan, including co-sponsoring legislation and making statements of support. The Congress members were mostly focused on issues including Taiwan's participation in international organizations, security in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan's national defense, and bilateral trade, and also showed support for bilateral cooperation in science and technology among other areas.
In closing, Representative Hsiao noted that the US Congress has passed several pieces of Taiwan-friendly legislation in recent years, including the TAIPEI Act, the Taiwan Travel Act, and the Taiwan Assurance Act, and that Vice President Lai was especially thankful for the longstanding support the US Congress has shown Taiwan. Representative Hsiao added that the vice president was pleased to engage in such an intensive round of talks with so many Congress members who support Taiwan, and that they were also very pleased to welcome the vice president. Though it was not possible to meet in person this time, many of the Congress members said they would like to go to Taiwan, and hope that more visits by bipartisan delegations can be arranged after the pandemic has subsided.