Taiwan Ties In Focus As Ambassador Visits Massachusetts State House

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2024/04/05/taiwan-ties-in-focus-as-ambassador-visits-massachusetts-state-house/

By Sam Doran
State House News Service

As Bay State and Taiwanese officials celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act on Thursday, they reflected not just on geopolitics but on “limitless” possibilities for international trade expansion between the two states.

Taiwan is Massachusetts’s ninth or tenth largest trading partner, according to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston. Ambassador Alexander Yui, Taiwan’s newly-seated representative in the United States, noted at a reception in Nurses Hall that the small country, just a third larger than this state, is a larger bilateral trade partner to the United States than India or Brazil.

Massachusetts was the first stop on Yui’s tour of the states since arriving in Washington, and he started his morning on Beacon Hill with a private meeting with Governor Maura Healey.

“It’s fitting that he chose Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American revolution, as his first visit outside of D.C.,” said Healey’s press secretary, Karissa Hand. “The Governor offered her condolences on the devastating earthquake that hit Taiwan earlier this week. They also discussed their shared commitment to free and fair elections, clean energy, and the strong business ties between our two countries.”

Yui reflected on the earthquake during a visit to the Massachusetts House of Representatives’ informal session. He called his nation “a very resilient island,” and said, “we learn from our past experiences, so we adapt, and we have taken better precautions for this tragedy.” The toll stands at around 10 casualties, he reported.

One of the priorities facing the new ambassador in Washington is legislation to avoid double-taxation. A U.S. Senate bill on that topic is summarized by the Congressional Budget Office as “intended to align the tax treatment of income in the United States and Taiwan with the typical treatment offered by the United States under bilateral tax treaties.”

“Once that passes,” Yui said, “it will invite more investments from Taiwan to the United States and vice-versa.”

The ambassador mentioned two semi-conductor manufacturing plants in Arizona, and added, “The opportunity in the United States is vast. And Massachusetts, why not? … The most important part is the brainpower and the human labor force, and you have it all here in Massachusetts.”

Taiwanese companies with operations in Massachusetts include Delta Electronics (Americas) Ltd. in Lowell, Axiom Technology, Inc. USA in Methuen, Segue Manufacturing Services, LLC in Billerica, Mediatek USA Inc. in Woburn, and Wpg Americas Inc. in Burlington and Andover, all dealing in areas like electric systems, semiconductors, and computer equipment.

Like many others, Yui also identified artificial intelligence as the next technological frontier.

“This is the advantage that you have, the labor force that you have, to prepare for the next industrial revolution, which is artifical intelligence. Taiwan is in the middle of it, and I’m sure that Massachusetts will also be an integral part of the new revolution,” he said.

State Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown), the House’s second assistant majority leader, was one of several lawmakers on hand for the reception in Nurses Hall. She recalled her trade trip to Taiwan with colleagues around 2019, and told State House News Service that she returned to Massachusetts “with a renewed admiration for the country and for the Taiwanese people.”

“I think it’s limitless,” Peake said of the capacity for expanded Taiwanese investment here. ” … We in Massachusetts have the people, the talent, and basically the geography for Taiwanese companies to continue to grow their business.”

The legislative delegation to Taiwan met the founder of E Ink, an electronic display company whose technology is used in Amazon Kindle screens. E Ink is just one company with property in Massachusetts, including a facility in South Hadley where it employs “several hundred people,” Peake said.

Tourism is another benefit — for both countries, state Representative Donald Wong (R-Saugus) said.

“When you go out on vacation as a tourist, you have to spend money for housing, to eat, and buy gifts. And we welcome all the tourists that they have, for both sides. In education, a lot of their students are coming here, and our students are going there. So parents have to visit their kids. … There’s so much that we can build on,” said Wong, a member of the Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development.

Massachusetts House Speaker Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) called Taiwan a “beacon of freedom in a stressed area,” referring to tensions with neighboring People’s Republic of China, where “everyone on the island lives with a certain degree of tension, as the bully next door threatens, rattles their sabre, flies jets overhead, all the intimidating things that a nation can do to another.”

“I truly have great admiration for what has been built there. I had the opportunity to visit. The changes that I have seen, in an economy that began hastily and under duress, is now one of the leading economies in the Asian Pacific. … We respect their right to freedom, and we will support that right. And we will work with them to make sure they stay in existence,” Mariano said.

Said Yui, the republic’s new ambassador in the states:  “Once you taste democracy, you don’t go back.”

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