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‘Everyone should update their understanding of China’: Taiwanese diplomat

Hsiao Bi-khim (Voice of America/WikiCommons)
August 08, 2020

This article was originally published by Radio Free Asia and is reprinted with permission.

Taiwan’s newly appointed representative to its trade and economic office in the United States, Hsiao Bi-khim, has said she will go to bat for the democratic island as a “battle cat” to counter China’s aggressive, “wolf warrior” style of diplomacy.

Hsiao, who started her career as an intern in the same office three decades ago, told journalists shortly after her appointment that she wants to promote ever-closer ties between Washington and Taipei.

A former member of Taiwan’s parliament for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Hsiao told RFA she hopes her approach will serve as a counterweight to China’s aggressive form of “wolf warrior diplomacy” in Washington.

“China has been using its philosophy of ‘wolf warrior diplomacy’ against Taiwan for decades,” Hsiao said. “They have excluded Taiwan from every area and limited Taiwan’s international presence.”

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“They have been very cruel and unfair to the people of Taiwan, and now they are using the same methods in countries all over the world,” Hsiao said. “Everyone should update their understanding of the nature of this regime.”

But she said Taiwan’s strong democracy and track record of governance would show that the island has far more resilience and flexibility than an authoritarian regime.

“Cats are more likeable than wolves,” Hsiao said. “And warrior cats are flexible.”

Promoting trade

One of Hsiao’s goals is to work towards the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), or the Taiwan-US Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA), as well as working towards a U.S. visit for President Tsai Ing-wen.

“This is a common expectation for many Taiwanese people,” she said. “Whether or not it can be met depends on whether the strategic environment is right.”

“We will be looking for opportunities in all of the upheaval,” she added.

Hsiao stepped down from the Legislative Yuan upon the end of her term in 2020, and was named an adviser to the National Security Council in March 2020.

She was appointed Taiwan’s representative to the United States in June, the first woman to hold the position. She was sworn into office on July 20.

Like President Tsai, Hsiao is a cat-lover who is relocating four felines to live with her during her tour of duty in Washington.

Tsai once adopted a cat found by Hsiao in a field after Typhoon Saola, naming it Think Think.