Washington, May 18 (CNA) A bipartisan group of 52 U.S. senators co-signed a letter to United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday campaigning for Taiwan's inclusion in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), amid concerns that Taiwan would be left out of the framework.
Democrat Senator Bob Menendez and Republican Senator Jim Risch led 50 senators from both parties in penning the letter to Biden, saying that including Taiwan in the IPEF would be an invaluable signal of the U.S.' "rock-solid commitment" to Taiwan and its prosperity and freedom, according to their press release.
Beginning with their concerns that "Taiwan will not be included in the proposed IPEF," the senators stressed the importance of Taiwan in global supply chains and in trade and economic relationships with the U.S., as well as the potential consequences of Taiwan's exclusion.
"Excluding Taiwan from IPEF would significantly distort the regional and global economic architecture, run counter to U.S. economic interests, and allow the Chinese government to claim that the international community does not in fact support meaningful engagement with Taiwan," the letter read.
The IPEF is an initiative proposed by Biden in 2021 with the aim of enhancing the U.S.' economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.
The IPEF has yet to be clearly defined. According to a U.S. Congressional Research Service report in April, the framework will include different modules covering "fair and resilient trade, supply chain resilience, infrastructure and decarbonization, and tax and anticorruption."
In Taipei, Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said on Thursday that the ministry would push for Taiwan's inclusion in the IPEF "step by step" through the "direct channels of communication" between the ministry and the U.S. and expressed thanks to the U.S. lawmakers for their support.
Their support showed that Taiwan's important role in the global supply chains has been recognized by the U.S., which is a positive development in Taiwan's pursuit of IPEF inclusion, Wang said in response to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) at a meeting of the Legislature's Economic Committee.
The letter came against the backdrop of various media reports in recent months citing unnamed sources as saying that Taiwan was not among the U.S.' prospective IPEF partners, despite explicit interest repeatedly expressed by Taipei.
According to an article published by POLITICO on Feb. 28, one former U.S. trade official, who asked not to be identified, said she did not believe the Biden administration would allow Taiwan into the IPEF.
"I think the challenge with Taiwan is that this is the administration's initiative on Asia, and they have been fairly cognizant of the fact that other countries will not want to be associated with an initiative that is seen to be primarily an anti-China coalition," the official was quoted in the report as saying.
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted unnamed sources as reporting on March 31 that U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told a closed-door meeting of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee the week before that the administration was not contemplating Taiwan's inclusion at this time.
When asked by U.S. lawmakers in the U.S. Congress in recent months about whether Taiwan would be invited to join the IPEF, both U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai (戴琪) were noncommittal and did not offer specifics.
A bipartisan group of 200 U.S. House representatives on March 30 sent a letter to Raimondo and Tai to petition for Taiwan's inclusion in IPEF.