Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office
|Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office|
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO), also known as Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) or Taipei Representative Office (TRO), is an alternative to an embassy or a consulate which handles the foreign affairs and citizen services of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in countries that have diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC, commonly "China"). Under the terms of the One China Policy stipulated by the PRC, such countries may not have diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, as the PRC denies the status of ROC as a sovereign state and claims Taiwan as part of its territory. As a result, these countries do not allow the ROC to establish an "official" embassy or consulate but instead allow the ROC to establish these representative offices to conduct unofficial government relations with the host countries.
These establishments use the term "Taipei" instead of "Taiwan", "ROC" or even the term "Nationalist China" (named after the ruling party Kuomintang) since the term "Taipei" avoids implying that Taiwan is a different country on a par with the PRC or that there are "Two Chinas", the PRC and the ROC, both of which would cause difficulties for their host countries.
TECROs state that their aim is "to promote bilateral trade, investment, culture, science and technology exchanges and cooperation, as well as better understanding", although they perform many of the same functions as an embassy or consulate general, such as issuing visas and passports. In this respect, they function as de facto embassies.
TECROs in the United States enjoy many diplomatic privileges such as extraterritoriality, providing consular protection and their staff have diplomatic immunity. Other countries also establish reciprocal representative offices in Taiwan, such as the American Institute in Taiwan, Canadian Trade Office in Taipei and Japan–Taiwan Exchange Association.
Following the admission of the PRC to the United Nations in 1971, many countries began to establish diplomatic relations with the government in Beijing, and as a consequence, ended diplomatic relations with the ROC government-in-exile in Taipei (in reality Nanjing was still the claimed capital until 1991). In order to maintain trade and cultural ties with countries with which it no longer had diplomatic relations, Taiwan established representative offices in these countries, often replacing its former embassies.
Before the 1990s, the names of these offices would vary considerably from country to country, usually omitting any reference to "Taiwan" or "Republic of China", instead referring to "East Asia", "Far East" or "Free China". They would also describe themselves as "centres" or "offices", concerned with trade, tourism, culture or information, thereby emphasising their private and unofficial status, despite being staffed by Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel.
For example, in Japan, the former ROC Embassy was replaced by the "Association of East Asian Relations" (AEAR) in 1972. In Malaysia, following the closure of the Consulate General in Kuala Lumpur in 1974, an office known as the Far East Travel and Trade Centre was established. In the Philippines, the former Embassy in Manila was replaced by the "Pacific Economic and Cultural Center", established in 1975. In Thailand, the former Embassy in Bangkok was replaced by the "Office of the Representative of China Airlines" in 1975. This was later renamed the Far East Trade Office in 1980.
In the United States, Taipei's mission, established in 1979, was known as the "Coordination Council for North American Affairs" (CCNAA). As of 2019, it has been renamed "Taiwan Council for US Affairs." 
In the United Kingdom, Taiwan was represented by the "Free Chinese Centre", established in 1963. In West Germany, it was represented by a Büro der Fernost-Informationen ("Far East Information Office") established in 1972. In Spain, the office, established in 1973, was known as the Centro Sun Yat-sen ("Sun Yat-sen Centre"). In the Netherlands, the office was known as the "Far East Trade Office".
However, in the late 1980s, these offices began using the name "Taipei" in their titles. In May 1992, the AEAR offices in Japan became Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Offices. The "Free Chinese Centre" in London was similarly renamed the "Taipei Representative Office". In September 1994, the Clinton Administration announced that the CCNAA office in Washington could similarly be called the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.
Earlier in 1989, the "Pacific Economic and Cultural Center" in Manila became the "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines". In 1991, the "Taiwan Marketing Service" office in Canberra, Australia, established in 1988, also became a "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office", along with the "Far East Trading Company" offices in Sydney and Melbourne.
Other names are still used elsewhere; for example, the mission in Moscow is formally known as the "Representative Office in Moscow for the Taipei-Moscow Economic and Cultural Coordination Commission", the mission in New Delhi is known as the "Taipei Economic and Cultural Center". The mission in Pretoria is known as the "Taipei Liaison Office".
The two most recent ones to change their official names, in Papua New Guinea and in Jordan, both use the name Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (Chinese: 臺北經濟文化辦事處, using the more complicated character for Taipei, 臺北, instead of 台北).
TECRO in the United States
Originally called the Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA), the name of the CCNAA office in Washington, D.C. (the "embassy") was changed to "Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office" (TECRO), as a result of the Clinton Administration's Taiwan Policy Review of 1994. Similarly, the names of the twelve other CCNAA offices ("consulates") in the United States were changed to "Taipei Economic and Cultural Office" (TECO).
On May 24, 2019, Taiwan informed that "the Coordination Council for North American Affairs" was renamed "the Taiwan Council for U.S. Affairs".
TECRO in Japan
Diplomatic relations between the Republic of China and Japan were broken off in September 1972. For practical reasons, the Association of East Asian Relations (AEAR), was established two months after the Japan-China Joint Communique was signed. EARA had offices in Taipei, Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka. In 1992, Japan authorized the change in name of AEAR to TECRO.
Representations in the PRC Special administrative regions
In Hong Kong, from 1966, Taiwan was represented by the 'Chung Hwa Travel Service', a name chosen to avoid upsetting Beijing. On 20 July 2011, as a result of warming relations between Taiwan and Beijing, the name was formally changed to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, bringing it into line with other Republic of China representative offices around the world.
In Macau, from 1989 to 1999, Taiwan was represented by the 'Taipei Trade and Tourism Office', Taiwan's first-time representation in Macau after Kuomintang's expulsion from Macau as the consequence of the December 3rd Incident in 1966. From 1999 to 2011, Taiwan was represented by the 'Taipei Economic and Cultural Center'. On 13 May 2012, the name was formally changed to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.
TRO in the United Kingdom
In 1950, the UK switched recognition from the Republic of China to the People's Republic of China (PRC) shortly after its establishment, while maintaining the British Consulate in Tamsui, through which the UK continued to carry out consular and trade-related activities. The Consulate was closed after the UK and the PRC upgraded relations to Ambassadorial level in March 1972, and in June 1980 the building and land of the Consulate were returned to the Taiwanese government. The ROC government’s office in the UK was set up in September 1963, and at the time was known as the Free Chinese Centre. In 1992, this was revised to become the Taipei Representative Office in the UK.
Taipei representative offices around the world
The list below shows the countries or regions where TECROs/TROs are established.
- Bolivia (closed in 2009)
- Libya (closed in 2011)
- Norway (suspended in 2017)
- Guam (suspended in 2017)
- Venezuela (closed in 2009)
- Foreign relations of the Republic of China
- Political status of Taiwan
- Chinese Taipei
- Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
- Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada
- List of diplomatic missions of Taiwan
- Timeline of diplomatic relations of the Republic of China
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- Two diplomats sworn in before departing for Poland, India, Focus Taiwan, July 8, 2015
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