Taiwan’s Ambassador Bi-khim Hsiao – A Statesman and Former Lawmaker – Addressed ALEC’s Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah
Numerous international figures participated in ALEC’s 2021 Annual Meeting, and among them was HE Bi-khim Hsiao of Taiwan, who addressed attendees at three conference events including the morning plenary session on Friday, July 30. A former member of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan, Ambassador Hsiao related naturally to the largely lawmaker audience, declaring that all issues are “local” in what appeared to be a tacit acknowledgement of what we at ALEC have always known. What state lawmakers lack in official jurisdiction over international policy they more than make up for in enthusiasm and influence. A link to her speech can be accessed here.
Ambassador Hsiao’s remarks melded inspiration and pragmatism in equal measure. She thanked ALEC for our “steadfast support of Taiwan” and for presenting Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen with the International Pioneer Award at the December 2020 States and Nation Policy Summit – President Tsai’s acceptance speech can be accessed here. Ambassador Hsiao remarked that while President Tsai was the honoree, it was also “recognition for the freedom-loving people of Taiwan and [their] determination to keep Taiwan free.” Taiwan’s tenacious hold on democracy is remarkable given the geostrategic challenges that the island faces. Ambassador Hsiao, who began her political career 1996, recalled that China responded to Taiwan’s first elections by firing missiles toward the island across the strait. In defiance of China’s continued economic, political and military coercion Taiwan has remained a beacon of democracy as detailed in the ALEC article At a Time When Global Democracy Is in Retreat, Taiwan Offers Hope.
The Ambassador expressed gratitude for ALEC’s concurrence with the negotiation of a US-Taiwan Bilateral Trade Agreement – model policy that was adopted in December 2020 – and emphasized the mutual benefits conferred by the US-Taiwan commercial partnership. Taiwan, only 1/15 the size of Utah where the ALEC conference took place, is the 8th largest market for US agriculture exports. Using the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) $12 billion investment in a facility in Arizona to illustrate the economic relationship’s interconnectedness, Ambassador Hsiao explained that semiconductors from the Arizona plant are purchased by American auto manufacturers located across the US to be placed in cars sold to people in Taiwan. The FIR Task Force adopted a model Resolution to Prioritize Strengthening the US-Taiwan Partnership to Enhance Global Supply Chain Security and Resilience, seeing a strong bilateral friendship as a path toward securing our nation’s international supply chains and as a way to reduce Taiwan’s dependence on China – especially for goods vital during the COVID-19 pandemic such as PPE, medicine and medical devices.
Ambassador Hsiao emphasized that Taiwan seeks to maximize trade with likeminded, democratic countries that similarly respect intellectual property protections and adhere to the rules-based, global order as well as to scientific standards. She reminded us that societies that protect freedom of speech are where “true innovation can propel technology that advances human progress instead of technology that is abused and used for surveillance and controlling their people.” ALEC has condemned China’s surveillance state in a podcasts featuring former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich here; Mercatus Center scholar Dr. Weifeng Zhong here; and Marion Smith the former Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Foundation here.
As Ambassador Hsiao observed, “Taiwan stands on the front line of confronting the Communist Party of China.” ALEC members are cognizant of Communism’s persistent hold on a number of countries and have adopted model policy to establish a Victims of Communism Day to serve as a time to educate about the horrors – past and present – of this destructive political system. ALEC has a model resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act to signal US resolve to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances in order to affirm our commitment to defend Taiwan, which as Ambassador Hsiao remarked during her speech, “is important for all the freedom-loving people in the world.”