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Taiwan expands diplomatic presence in Canada with new Montreal office

CH-47 will fly the Taiwanese flag across the city as a rehearsal ahead of the Taiwan National Day celebrations in Taipei on September 29, 2022.Ann Wang/Reuters

Taiwan is expanding its diplomatic presence in Canada by opening a new office in Montreal, while Beijing seeks to isolate the autonomous island it views as an independent province.

Canada does not accept Taiwan It has established itself as a sovereign state since 1970, when former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau switched diplomatic ties to the Communist Party-led People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the mainland.

Nevertheless, Taiwan has maintained informal ties with Canada ever since. Today, the Asian democracy of 24 million has a de facto embassy in Ottawa called Canada’s Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, with regional offices in Toronto and Vancouver. Similarly, Canada has an unofficial embassy in Taiwan called the Canadian Trade Bureau in Taipei.

Taiwan’s ambassador to Canada, Harry Tseng, said he hopes a new regional office in Montreal will open by mid-2023. He said Taipei must choose the head of the office and recruit staff.

he referred to the prime minister Justin Trudeau Hailing from Montreal, its political importance can also be measured by the number of foreign countries that maintain consulates there. China.

Mario St. Marie, a former Canadian diplomat who represented Canada in Taiwan from 2015 to 2018, believes the new office could not open without the tacit approval of Global Affairs.

“I think this reflects a change in the Canadian government’s attitude towards Taiwan, because I don’t think they would have opened up Taiwan without permission from the Canadian government,” he said.

Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie said at the end of last year, Indo-Pacific strategy Leading regional relations, including a pledge to expand relations with Taiwan.

China has never ruled Taiwan since it came to power on the mainland in 1949, but it views it as a rebellious province. Taiwan, where the Kuomintang army who lost the civil war with the Communist Party fled.

China has taken steps to cut Taiwan off from the international community, denied opportunities to participate in international bodies such as the World Health Organization’s regular session, and denied ties to countries that still recognized the island as a sovereign state. I am persuading him to refuse. In 2000, Taiwan established official diplomatic relations with 29 member states of the United Nations and the Holy See. Today that number has been reduced to 13 and the Vatican.

The Chinese embassy declined a request for comment on Taiwan’s regional office scheduled for Montreal.

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Meanwhile, Taipei is preparing for a possible Chinese invasion as early as 2027, and some in the US security and defense establishment believe Beijing can launch a military strike.

“2027 is a year to be careful,” Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu recently told Sky News. In response to a visit to Taiwan last summer by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Beijing surrounded the island with warships and conducted live-fire exercises, including ballistic missile launches. Military experts said it was similar to drills for a blockade of Taiwan.

In its Indo-Pacific Strategy, Canada said it would “continue to expand economic and people-to-people ties with Taiwan while supporting Taiwan’s resilience,” despite Taiwan’s increasing risks. The plan calls China an “increasingly disruptive global power” and aims to diversify trade beyond national markets.

Asked if it would welcome Taiwan’s expansion in Canada, Jolly’s office said Ottawa would not deviate from its “one-China policy,” which diplomatically recognizes China, not Taiwan. Despite this, spokesperson Adrian Blanchard said Canada “continues to engage on multiple fronts with Taiwan, including cooperation on trade, technology, health, democratic governance and countering disinformation.” Stated.

About 200,000 people of Taiwanese descent live in Canada, and 60,000 Canadians live in Taiwan. Taiwan is her 13th largest trading partner for Canada and her 5th largest trading partner in Asia.

David Mulroney, a former Canadian diplomat and ambassador to Beijing who served as chief envoy to Taipei early in his career, said an expansion to Montreal made sense for Taiwan as part of a plan to get help for the plight. He said it worked.

“Taiwan needs to step up its game when it comes to understanding Canada and Canadians. That’s the key to gaining support,” Mulroney said. “Too often, Taiwanese officials seem only concerned with cross-strait issues, applying them to Canada or viewing Canada as merely a scaled-down version of the United States. It looks like you are.”

Guy Saint-Jacques, former Canadian ambassador to China, said Montreal offers interesting economic opportunities for Taiwan, including artificial intelligence research, the video game industry, health and aviation sectors.

“Plus, it gives them the opportunity to have close ties with the Chinese community and see what the Chinese consulate is doing,” he said.

Tseng said he feels support from Canada. This is no different than before. But there is support from Global Affairs Canada. We have support from the entire government. This is very encouraging.

However, Taiwan is still awaiting a decision on whether to start negotiations on an investment and trade agreement with Canada. The Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between Taiwan and Canada could stimulate two-way trade by giving legal protections to Canadian investors in Canada and Taiwanese investors in Canada.

Last fall, Wu said the deal with Canada is one of the best ways Ottawa can help the island. Canada pledged to begin preliminary negotiations on an investor protection agreement with Taiwan in January last year, which was completed in June.

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