TAIPEI (CNA) — Paul Chen (陳盈連), a career foreign service officer, will head Taiwan’s representative office in Guam, which is expected to be reopened at the end of August or by early September.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said Chen, the deputy chief of MOFA’s Office of Parliamentarian Affairs, is currently consulting with the United States on when he should assume office.
Ou indicated, however, that the actual reopening of Taiwan’s representative office in Guam will still depend on how the COVID-19 pandemic develops.
Chen is familiar with U.S. affairs as he had been assigned to Taiwan’s offices in Chicago and Los Angeles during his career.
Taiwan had maintained a representative office in Guam until August 2017, when it was closed due to “budget constraints and manpower considerations.”
On July 3, the MOFA announced it would re-establish the office due to the growing partnership between Taiwan and the U.S., the strategic importance of the Pacific region to Taiwan, and increases in MOFA’s budget since 2018.
Once reopened, the Guam office will be Taiwan’s 13th representative office in the U.S., aside from those in Washington D.C., New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Chicago, Honolulu, Denver, and Miami.
Oddis Tsai (蔡榮峰), a researcher at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), told CNA on Tuesday that in the near future, Guam could become a hub of “strategic intelligence exchange” for Taiwan, Japan and the U.S.
Guam, along with Taiwan, Palau and the Philippines, are the four points surrounding the Philippine Sea, a vital theater for keeping People’s Liberation Army submarines and aircraft carriers from getting beyond the second island chain, he said.
It is also one of the two strategic nodes in the new U.S. defense concept called “dynamic force employment,” which aims to make its military movements unpredictable to Beijing, he said, adding that the U.S. is expected to relocate its Marines deployed in Okinawa to Guam starting in 2024.
Aside from the security issue, increasing Chinese investment and Chinese immigrants in Guam are also things Taiwan should pay attention to, he said.