“In the past few years, all of us have been subjected to economic coercion by China,” stated Douglas Hsu Yu-tien, Taiwan’s newly appointed chief representative to Australia. Despite the pressure from Beijing, Hsu intends to advocate for enhanced trade cooperation between the two nations. Taiwan, with its independent military, democratically elected government, and constitution, has been self-governing since 1949. However, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) considers Taiwan a renegade province and endeavors to limit its international engagement.
Mr. Hsu, who assumed his role in Canberra in August, expressed his belief in the future trend of mutual trust and reliance in economic and trade relations between democratic countries. He expressed optimism that economic and trade relations between Taiwan and Australia would continue to improve. In 2018, Australia halted plans to sign a free trade agreement with Taiwan under pressure from China’s foreign minister at the time, Wang Yi. Former Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop explained that she observed an increasing assertiveness from China to discourage nations from building relationships with Taiwan.
Mr. Hsu stated that the Taiwanese authorities have urged the Australian government to consider a free trade agreement, emphasizing that Taiwan is Australia’s fifth-largest merchandise export market. He believes that the Australian government will take into account all factors when considering the issue. The representative also confirmed that his team would work diligently to promote this agenda.
Regarding recent concerns of foreign interference, Mr. Hsu assured that cooperation between Taiwan and Australia would not be affected. He pointed out the longstanding history of mutual legal assistance cooperation between the two countries, emphasizing that it has operated smoothly. He expressed confidence that this close cooperation would continue and not be impeded by any specific case.
Additionally, Mr. Hsu expressed hopes for increased security ties in the Indo-Pacific region. While security cooperation between the United States, Japan, and the Philippines in the region strengthens, he encouraged Australia to further engage. He acknowledged the shared challenges and threats faced in the Indo-Pacific, emphasizing the importance of cooperation among nations.
It is worth noting that the Australian government has previously expressed concerns about regional peace and stability through joint declarations with other countries and participated in numerous joint military exercises. Mr. Hsu interpreted these actions as a demonstration of Australia’s genuine concern for regional security.
Linda Huang and Nelson Huang contributed to this report.