President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday congratulated US President Joe Biden and US Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration, and reiterated the nation’s commitment to advancing ties with its “most important ally,” after the Taiwanese envoy in Washington was formally invited to the ceremony, the first since the two sides severed ties in 1979.
“Taiwan and the US have long had diverse and close cooperation on all manner of issues,” Tsai wrote on Facebook, lauding the “warm and deep friendship” between the people of the two nations.
She wished the new administration well in carrying out its policies, and vowed to deepen the Taiwan-US relationship to “contribute the positive forces of democracy and freedom” to the world.
Photo courtesy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US
The president also thanked the administration of former US president Donald Trump, including its diplomats, as well as bipartisan supporters for a fruitful four years.
The warming ties were fully evidenced by the formal invitation offered to Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) to attend the inauguration on Wednesday, Tsai said.
The US Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, in a break from tradition, formally invited Taiwan’s representative to attend for the first time since 1979.
In previous inaugurations, Taiwanese representatives have been invited as guests of US congressional members or organizations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a news release yesterday confirmed the nature of the invitation to the “most important democratic event in the US.”
The gesture “demonstrates the two nations’ close friendship formed on the basis of shared values,” it said. “On this existing foundation, we will continue to promote exchanges and cooperation on all levels and in all areas with the Biden administration.”
Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that Hsiao was invited in the same capacity as other honored guests, including permission to bring a plus-one.
It was not the only time Taiwanese officials have attended, Ou said, but stressed the “great significance” of this invitation, especially as the event was pared down amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked why the ministry did not announce the invitation earlier, Ou said that the ministry had no ulterior motives.
Based on experience, it is ministry policy not to publicize such invitations in advance, Ou said.
The ministry prefers to first use the “most appropriate method” to offer congratulations, she said.
A ministry statement saying that the “probability [of attending the inauguration] is low” referenced sending a delegation to Washington, she said, adding that it said nothing about Hsiao.
“Anyone who says there is ‘no way in’ is making an incorrect assumption,” she said, referencing Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ma Wen-chun’s (馬文君) statement on Wednesday that the Tsai administration’s deference to the US Republican Party had harmed its future with the Biden administration.
The KMT is positive about advances in Taiwan-US ties, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said, but added that it is more important to convert formal exchanges into tangible mutual benefits.
Additional reporting by CNA
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