On February 25, the Utah State Legislature passed a joint resolution reaffirming their sister-state friendship with Taiwan, and called on President Obama and Congress to support the signing of a free trade agreement between Taiwan and the US. Additionally, Utah’s representatives encouraged Washington to support Taiwan’s participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization and President Ma Ying-jeou’s East China Sea Peace Initiative.
On the same day, Bruce Fuh, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco, flew to Salt Lake City, to thank the state’s representatives for their continued friendship and support of the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan. On behalf of the Taiwan government and people, Director General Fuh conveyed his gratitude to the people of Utah and promised that the island will continue to serve as a model of democracy in East Asia.
In view of the destabilizing influence of the territorial disputes in the East China Sea, the Utah resolution praised Taiwan’s East China Sea Peace Initiative, which hopes to reduce regional tension. Believing that the peace initiative is in the interests of all the parties involved and serves as a stabilizing effort, the resolution calls on all parties to refrain from taking antagonistic actions, and encourages open dialogue and other peaceful means to resolve the East China Sea disputes.
The resolution points out that Taiwan is the world’s 18th largest exporting country, the US’s 10th largest trading partner and the 6th largest importer of American agricultural products. Nevertheless, there is still no free trade agreement between Taiwan and the United States. The Utah State Legislature urged the US president and Congress to support the signing of a free trade agreement with Taiwan, and to support Taiwan’s participation in the multi-lateral free trade negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Utah resolution also supports Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the United Nations and its umbrella organizations. It specifically mentions support for Taiwan’s effort to gain observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), since the island’s airlines carry Taiwanese travelers worldwide, including over 580,000 businesspeople and students traveling between Taiwan and the United States each year. Still, for over 40 years, Taiwan has been barred from participating in ICAO and prevented from gaining full and timely access to international flight safety requirements and information. This has hindered Taiwan’s airlines from practicing international aviation norms.
Since 1980, the State of Utah and Taiwan Province have established a close sister state relationship. The resolution reconfirms this relationship, and praises Taiwan for its democratic development. It noted the core values shared between Taiwan and the United States such as freedom, democracy, human rights, open markets, peace and prosperity.
As a long standing supporter of the ROC, the Utah State Legislature has passed many resolutions in support of Taiwan in recent years, including the country’s participation in the World Health Organization, the US Visa Waiver Program, United Nations specialized agencies, and the island’s efforts to re-open bilateral free trade talks with the United States.
According to the Central News Agency the ROC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed gratitude to all the state representatives in the twelve states for passing resolutions in support of Taiwan. The states include Alabama, Washington, Rhode Island, Idaho, Iowa, Georgia, Montana, South Carolina, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Utah and New Mexico. The various resolutions on Taiwan cover a wide range of topics, ranging from support for Taiwan’s participation in the international arena to an affirmation of friendship between the state and Taiwan. In addition, the resolutions also commended Taiwan’s democratic and economic achievements, and the island’s contributions to international humanitarian relief.