Program will give U.S. government employees unique opportunities to strengthen U.S.-Taiwan ties

Letter Text (PDF)

Washington (May 15, 2024) - Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), along with a bipartisan group of their Senate colleagues, today wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the United States Department of State to swiftly finalize an agreement with Taiwan to implement the Taiwan Fellowship program to allow its first fellows to arrive in Taiwan by the end of 2024. The Taiwan Fellowship Act, introduced by Senators Markey and Rubio in 2021 and passed into law in 2022 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), will build upon the people-to-people ties between the United States and Taiwan by establishing a fellowship exchange program for U.S. federal government employees to live on the island and work for Taiwan ministries, agencies, or parliamentary offices or other organizations in Taiwan related to their home agency work. Fellows will also learn Mandarin Chinese. However, more than a year after the legislation’s enactment, and in violation of statutory deadlines, the Taiwan Fellowship Act’s mandate remains unfulfilled.

In the letter, the lawmakers wrote, “Getting the Taiwan Fellowship program up and running is increasingly important as the authoritarian forces of the PRC, North Korea, and Russia continue to threaten the Indo-Pacific region, including Taiwan. Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and a critical U.S. ally that shares our commitment to human rights, the rule of law, and security across the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. Despite facing threats of foreign interference in its most recent presidential and legislative elections, attempts to hinder participation in international fora, and near-daily gray-zone violations of its airspace and maritime boundaries, Taiwan continues to be a good-faith stakeholder in the international community and a beacon of democracy... The Taiwan Fellowship Program is a tangible manifestation of a principled foreign policy committed both to supporting a key democratic partner and building a generation of American foreign affairs professionals with needed expertise on Taiwan. We hope that we will soon see the launch of the Taiwan Fellowship Program so that the first class of U.S. fellows may arrive in Taiwan before the end of 2024 to begin their language study.”

Cosigners include: Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).