Taipei, July 29 (CNA) American Senator Bill Hagerty said Thursday that the United States should bolster its economic ties with Taiwan and Japan as part of the efforts to tackle the challenges posed by China in the Indo-Pacific region.
"I strongly urge our three governments to work together to strengthen economic linkages," Hagerty said in a virtual meeting on economic and security issues, which was attended by 20 American Congress members and their counterparts in Taiwan and Japan.
The first edition of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue, organized by the Japan-ROC Diet Members' Consultative Council, a parliamentary friendship group, was closed to the media, except for the opening remarks.
According to Hagerty, cooperation among Taiwan, Japan and the U.S. will "enhance global economic prosperity, while countering predatory actions by the Chinese Communist Party."
The Republican senator, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Japan under the administration of former President Donald Trump, has been outspoken in his criticism of China, saying in May that Beijing was attempting to "erode U.S. leadership across the globe."
Also speaking at the meeting, Senator Edward Markey said the U.S., Japan and Taiwan are uniquely positioned to tackle the global challenges of the 21st century, which range from threats to democracy to climate change.
"A key flashpoint in the region revolves around the Chinese government's coercive attempts to undermine Taiwan's democratic character in free economy," Markey said, reiterating the U.S. government's commitment to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Markey, who also chairs the Senate's foreign relations subcommittee on Asia-Pacific affairs, said he aimed to ensure that Taiwan could continue to have a role in global affairs.
Invited to address the event, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also touched on the China issue and called for solidarity among democratic countries to make sure that the Indo-Pacific region remains free and open.
While a rising China provides a broad range of opportunities for the global economy, Beijing's military activities in the South China Sea and East China Sea in recent years are cause for concern, Abe said.
Abe, who serves as a consultant to the Japanese Diet group, also endorsed Taiwan's participation in a regional trade pact led by Japan, as well as in other international organizations.
The trade pact, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), went into effect at the end of 2018, following the ratification of more than half of the 11 signatories.
Taiwan has been keen to join the CPTPP, hoping to further integrate into the regional trade bloc, as emphasized in Wednesday's meeting by Taiwan's Legislative Yuan speaker You Si-kun, who urged Japan to support Taiwan's CPTPP bid.
He also called on the U.S. and Japan to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with Taiwan.
On the China issue, You said democratic countries in the Indo-Pacific region should take action to prevent any attempts by Bejing to "unilaterally change the status quo by force" and threaten the stability across the Taiwan Strait.
He proposed that the U.S. and Japan give diplomatic recognition to Taiwan, as a means of deterring China.
The U.S. and Japan should also allow Taiwan to join their Squad, a quadrilateral security dialogue that includes India and Australia, You said.
You, who represented a cross-party Taiwan-Japan friendship group in the Legislature, also thanked the U.S. and Japan for donating COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan after it was hit by a severe virus outbreak in mid-May.
The two countries have donated roughly 5.84 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan, which account for more than half of the vaccines it has procured to date.