A bipartisan group of US Senators and Congressmen introduced similar bills Thursday mandating the Secretary of State to negotiate with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) to rename its office as the “Taiwan Representative Office.” Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez introduced the Senate bill and Democratic Congressman Chris Pappas and Republican Congressman John Curtis proposed companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
In November 2021, Lithuania permitted Taiwan to establish an unofficial embassy using its own name over China’s preferred name “Chinese Taipei.” As a result, China recalled its ambassador to Lithuania, downgraded diplomatic ties with its capital and banned all imports from Lithuania. Reportedly, China has also pressured European businesses not to use Lithuanian products. According to the lawmakers, the bills show solidarity with Lithuania, a NATO ally.
Currently, in the absence of formal diplomatic ties and a formal embassy, TECRO operates as a de facto embassy to represent Taiwan in the US. The bills state that the idea to rename TECRO is in consonance with the US policy of providing de facto diplomatic treatment to the people of Taiwan at par with other countries. It simply directs the Secretary of State “to seek to enter into negotiations” with TECRO to rename its office the “Taiwan Representative Office.”
The pair of bills further say that if such renaming takes place, then all references to TECRO in any US laws or documents shall be “deemed to be a reference to the Taiwan Representative Office.” Moreover, it also clarifies that the bill does not imply the restoration of diplomatic ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) or a change in the US position on Taiwan’s international status.
Senator Menendez said of the proposed legislation: “At a time of unprecedented international tension and as Beijing continues to seek to bully and coerce Taiwan, this important bill demonstrates the United States’ critical support for the people of Taiwan.” Senator Rubio added, “I can think of no better way to recognize Taiwan’s contributions to global stability than by renaming their office in Washington, D.C., the seat of American democracy, to better reflect its actual purpose.”