Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Taiwan’s representative-designate to the US, has vowed to develop a trust-based partnership with the US, especially in the area of technology security.
Hsiao was last month appointed as Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US and is to become the first woman to hold the position when she assumes the role by the end of this month.
Hsiao said she intends to push for wide-ranging cooperation with the US in areas such as national security, agriculture, trade, industrial restructuring and technology security, with technology likely a priority.
Competition between the US and China has shifted from geopolitics to technology, and many believe Beijing’s rapid technological advances are in part due to its theft of trade secrets from the US, she said.
China’s spying activities have alarmed the tech industry, but have also opened doors for Taiwan to strengthen cooperation with the US on technology, she said.
As a manufacturing hub for information and communication technology products, Taiwan needs to ensure that it is a trustworthy partner, she said.
Another important challenge would be promoting Taiwan’s soft power through sports, food and other cultural activities, Hsiao said.
One of her plans to achieve that goal is to hold exhibitions showcasing Taiwanese culture and art at Taiwan’s Twin Oaks, a 7.3-hectare estate in Washington that the government uses for official functions, she said.
Although not a career foreign service officer, Hsiao said she felt she has the personality traits for the job, especially being creative and impartial.
“Since I am not from the foreign service system, I can treat everyone from different government branches equally. My efforts to advance Taiwan-US relations will not be one that is limited to diplomatic aspects,” she said.
Another asset is that she understands President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) views and the security team’s outlook on many issues, Hsiao said.
Regarding Taiwan-US relations, Hsiao said that a free and open Pacific, the core value of the US’ Indo-Pacific strategy, is aligned with Taiwan’s national interests, especially as China expands its influence in the region.
Taiwan would use its limited resources to help maintain peace and stability in the region, and many like-minded countries would like to work with Taiwan not only on security issues, but in other fields, such as Chinese-language learning, she said.
“There are plenty of opportunities for Taiwan to engage in more interactions with other countries,” she said.
Several challenges await Hsiao in her new position, including China’s “wolf warrior” diplomacy.
Hsiao, a cat lover, jokingly said that she would use “war cat” diplomacy, as cats are smart, agile and flexible, allowing them to find a way out in difficult situations.
Another challenge is the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevents face-to-face interactions, she said.
More “creative ways” are needed to cope with the new normal, Hsiao said.
Hsiao, born to an American mother, has served as the Democratic Progressive Party’s chief of international affairs, a lawmaker, a consultant to the Mainland Affairs Council and a National Security Council adviser.
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