President Tsai Ing-wen (left) takes part in a tree
planting ceremony March 22, 2019, with Palau
President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. during her
eight-day Oceans of Democracy presidential visit
to three diplomatic allies in the Pacific.(Courtesy of Presidential Office)
- More than 160 countries and territories
accord visa-free, landing visa or e-visa
privileges to Republic of China (Taiwan)
- Taiwan is the only nation included in
the U.S. Visa Waiver Program that does
not maintain formal diplomatic relations
with the United States.
The ROC is a sovereign and independent state that maintains
its own national defense and conducts its own foreign affairs. As
enshrined in the ROC Constitution, the country aims to “cultivate
good-neighborliness with other nations, and respect treaties and the
Charter of the U.N. … promote international cooperation, protect
international justice and ensure world peace.” The ultimate goal of
the country’s foreign policy is to ensure a favorable environment for
the nation’s preservation and long-term development.
The government is committed to its approach of steadfast
diplomacy, which aims to advance mutual assistance for mutual
benefits. The policy is also defined as firm in purpose and is
targeted at building robust relationships with diplomatic allies and
countries that share the common values of freedom and democracy.
Under this approach, the focus of the country’s diplomatic work
is shifting from the one-way provision of foreign aid to twoway
dialogue, with bilateral cooperation projects taking into
consideration the development of both industries and markets.
Under President Tsai Ing-wen’s New Southbound Policy, Taiwan
is also striving to broaden exchanges with the 10 Association
of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian
countries, Australia and New Zealand on economic and trade
cooperation, talent cultivation, resource sharing and regional
links. The long-term goal is to create a new type of cooperation
based on mutual benefits.
The ROC has diplomatic relations with 15 countries and
substantive ties with many others such as Australia, Canada, EU
nations, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S. President Tsai visited
diplomatic ally the Kingdom of Eswatini April 17-21, 2018, for
celebrations marking 50 years of independence for the African
nation and 50 years of bilateral ties. From Aug. 12-20 the same
year, President Tsai traveled to allies Paraguay and Belize in South
and Central America, respectively. During this trip, she attended
the inauguration of Paraguay President Mario Abdo Benitez and
held bilateral talks with the heads of state of these countries.
From March 21-28, 2019, the president went on her Oceans
of Democracy visit to Palau, Nauru and Marshall Islands. This
followed on from her first trip to the Pacific in October 2017 to
Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. President Tsai visited Taiwan’s Caribbean allies Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent
and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia on her Journey of Freedom,
Democracy, Sustainability from July 11-22. The presidential visit
also included U.S. stopovers in New York and Denver.
Taiwan has full membership in 38 intergovernmental
organizations and their subsidiary bodies, including the World
Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Asian
Development Bank and Central American Bank for Economic
Integration.It also enjoys observer or other statuses in 20 IGOs
and their subsidiary bodies, including the Inter-American Development Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development and committees of the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development.
Taiwan will, while upholding national sovereignty and dignity and
advancing the welfare of the people, engage with the international
community pragmatically and professionally to contribute
wherever possible. It will also continue to seek participation
in intergovernmental organizations and mechanisms related
to human welfare and development such as the World Health
Organization, International Civil Aviation Organization, U.N.
Framework Convention on Climate Change and International
Criminal Police Organization. These efforts have won the staunch
support of diplomatic allies and like-minded countries.
As of March 21, 2019, 167 countries and territories have
accorded visa-free, landing visa or e-visa privileges to ROC
(Taiwan) passport holders. Taiwan has also inked working holiday
agreements with 16 countries.
Notably, among the 38 countries included in the U.S. Visa Waiver
Program, Taiwan is the only one that does not maintain formal
diplomatic relations with the United States, highlighting the
otherwise close relationship between the two sides. The Taiwan
Relations Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1979, has continued
to provide a strong foundation for Taiwan-U.S. cooperation in
the absence of formal diplomatic ties.The U.S. has repeatedly reiterated its security commitments to Taiwan under the TRA
and the Six Assurances. In 2018, the Taiwan Travel Act was passed
unanimously by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by U.S.
President Donald J. Trump. This legislation encourages visits by
officials at all levels from the two sides, underscoring the strong
support for Taiwan from the executive and legislative branches of
the U.S. government.
The ROC and the Holy See have long-standing diplomatic
relations and possess a shared commitment to religious freedom and
humanitarian relief. Acting in line with the universal values of peace,
freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, Taiwan will
continue to be an indispensable partner to the Holy See and other
countries in their efforts to promote love, charity and world peace.
Likewise, sharing common values such as democracy, freedom and
the rule of law, Taiwan and the EU, together with other European
countries, have expanded cooperation and exchanges across
numerous fields such as economics, technology and culture. For
instance, economic and trade ties between Taiwan and European
countries are stable and close. The EU is Taiwan’s fifth-largest
trading partner and largest source of foreign direct investment,
with accumulated investment reaching more than US$51.4 billion
as of 2018.
On April 10, 2013, Taiwan signed a fisheries agreement with Japan
after 17 rounds of negotiations since 1996, expanding the fishing
grounds of Taiwan vessels in waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea. Strong ties between the two sides
are underscored by the renaming of Japan’s representative office
in Taiwan from the Interchange Association, Japan to the Japan-
Taiwan Exchange Association in January 2017, as well as Taiwan’s
Association of East Asian Relations to the Taiwan-Japan Relations
Association in May 2017.
Personnel from Taipei City-based International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) provide health information to locals as part of a three-year project to prevent and treat chronic kidney disease in Caribbean ally St. Kitts and Nevis. (Courtesy of TaiwanICDF)
Taiwan and Japan held their third annual meeting on maritime
affairs in Tokyo Dec. 27, 2018. Staged in accordance with a
marine cooperation dialogue mechanism established in 2016,
the forum explored opportunities for collaboration across a wide
range of areas such as fisheries and research, and concluded with
the signing of memorandums of understanding on promoting
ocean sciences and tackling cross-border crime.
In November 2015, Taiwan and the Philippines concluded the
Agreement Concerning the Facilitation of Cooperation on Law
Enforcement in Fisheries Matters to safeguard the security of
fishermen from both sides.
On July 19, 2016, President Tsai put forth four principles
and five actions pertaining to the South China Sea issue. The
four principles are: Firstly, disputes in the South China Sea
should be settled peacefully in accordance with international
law and the law of the sea, including the U.N. Convention on
the Law of the Sea. Secondly, Taiwan should be included in
multilateral mechanisms aimed at resolving disputes. Thirdly,
states concerned have an obligation to safeguard freedom of
navigation and overflight in the region. Lastly, disputes should
be resolved by setting aside differences and promoting joint
development. Through negotiations conducted on the basis of
equality, Taiwan is willing to work with all states concerned to
advance peace and stability in the South China Sea, and to jointly
conserve and develop resources in the region. The five actions
include safeguarding the country’s fishing rights, participating in multilateral consultations, promoting scientific cooperation,
strengthening humanitarian response and nurturing experts in the
law of the sea.
The government is working to transform Taiping Island in the
Nansha (Spratly) Islands into a base for humanitarian aid and
supplies in the South China Sea. Since assuming responsibility
in 2000 for maintaining the government’s presence on Taiping
Island as well as the Dongsha (Pratas) Islands, the Coast
Guard Administration under the Cabinet-level Ocean Affairs
Council has conducted 78 disaster response and humanitarian
aid missions and assisted 111 individuals from home and
abroad. The CGA is committed to deepening collaboration
with its counterparts from neighboring countries in line with
the government’s policy of working with all relevant parties to
advance peace and stability in the South China Sea.
With an area of 0.51 square kilometers, Taiping Island can
sustain human habitation and an economic life of its own. It
also meets the criteria of an island as defined in Article 121 of
the UNCLOS, affording the ROC full rights associated with
territorial waters, a contiguous zone, a 200-nautical-mile exclusive
economic zone and a continental shelf under UNCLOS.
As a model citizen in global society, Taiwan will continue to
promote humanitarian aid and disease control while actively
participating in international efforts to tackle climate change, terrorism and transnational crime. Going forward, the nation will
build lasting partnerships with allied and like-minded countries
through fostering governmental interactions, business investment
and people-to-people exchanges, and work with its partners
around the world to uphold and promote the universal values of
peace, freedom, democracy and human rights.
Changes in society, economic liberalization and democratic
transformation in Taiwan have created a fertile environment
for the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations
have flourished. Civil society today plays a key role in ensuring
good governance and enabling Taiwan to exert its soft power in
the international arena. NGOs have raised Taiwan’s profile by
engaging in various international cooperation projects closely
aligned with the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.