Vice President Lai Ching-te, after leading a delegation to Honduras to attend the inauguration of President Xiomara Castro, held online meetings with numerous US political and civil society leaders on the morning of January 29 (early morning January 30 Taipei time) during a stopover in San Francisco. Following those meetings, Representative to the US Bi-khim Hsiao (蕭美琴) provided a briefing on the proceedings.
Representative Hsiao stated that the vice president had held four videoconferences that day. During the first meeting, with Stanford University School of Medicine Senior Associate Dean Yvonne Maldonado, Vice President Lai thanked the school for conducting PCR testing and implementing disease prevention procedures for the Taiwanese delegation, before the two exchanged views on issues related to COVID-19 including vaccinations for children, future vaccine development, and further monitoring of the disease.
Representative Hsiao said that the vice president's second meeting was with US-Taiwan Business Council Chairman Michael Splinter, who is also chairman of the board at NASDAQ and has extensive experience in the technology sector. Vice President Lai and Chairman Splinter had an in-depth discussion on Taiwan-US economic development, supply chain cooperation, and deepening exchanges in all areas.
Representative Hsiao said that Vice President Lai made a point of mentioning that Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks had resumed and that the second annual Taiwan-US Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue was held last year, and expressed hope that the next step will be talks on a bilateral trade agreement. During their friendly discussion, Chairman Splinter expressed his support for these sentiments, and noted that he had played a very active role in many key Taiwan-US economic and trade initiatives over the past few years.
Representative Hsiao said that the third meeting focused on national defense and security issues, and involved experts who were key national security personnel in the previous Trump administration including former White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, former White House Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger, and former US National Security Council Director for China Matt Turpin. During the hour-long meeting, the participants held in-depth discussions on regional security and ways to maintain security and stability in the Taiwan Strait, in addition to related preparations Taiwan should make in areas such as traditional national defense, asymmetric warfare, and cognitive warfare capabilities, as well as working toward a more resilient society.
Representative Hsiao added that aside from discussing traditional approaches to developing national defense capabilities, the participants also covered topics such as economic diversification and what can be done to help Taiwan reduce reliance on China. Representative Hsiao also noted that Taiwan plays an important role in international supply chains and that the US has always supported our efforts to step up economic cooperation with other like-minded democracies, saying that we hope to leverage economic cooperation and development to help Taiwan build a more resilient society and respond to the challenges of a changing global landscape.
Representative Hsiao stated that the vice president's fourth meeting, with US Senator Tammy Duckworth, lasted about 20 minutes. Vice President Lai began by thanking Senator Duckworth for meeting with him, noting that she is an important supporter of Taiwan in the US Congress. The vice president also expressed special gratitude to Senator Duckworth on behalf of President Tsai Ing-wen and our government for urging the Biden administration to provide vaccines to Taiwan last year when we were unable to obtain COVID-19 vaccines due to obstruction by China, and for travelling to Taiwan to announce the US government's donation.
Senator Duckworth said she was honored to take part in the call with the vice president and hoped to visit Taiwan again. Vice President Lai then welcomed her to come back, and asked the senator and the US Congress to continue supporting deeper economic and trade cooperation with Taiwan. Meanwhile, Senator Duckworth stated that in addition to cooperation in semiconductors and technology, as her state of Illinois is known for its agriculture, she would like to initiate exchanges with Taiwan in the agricultural sector. Moreover, having served in the US armed forces, Senator Duckworth raised the subject of national defense. Both the senator and Vice President Lai agreed that Taiwan and the US should continue to strengthen bilateral security cooperation and enhance Taiwan's self-defense capabilities.