Remarks of AIT Director Douglas H. Paal at the China Euro-Asian Foundation Conference - Taipei-Washington-Beijing Relations Today
Remarks of AIT Director Douglas H. Paal at the China Euro-Asian Foundation Conference - Taipei-Washington-Beijing Relations Today
DIR-052304-01E | Date: 2004-05-23
I want to thank the Foundation on International and Cross-Strait Studies for hosting this important conference, which has brought together some of the most knowledgeable professionals in the field to exchange ideas on a very important subject. And I want to thank the organizers of this event for inviting me to offer some remarks on the Bush administration assessment of the U.S.-Taiwan-PRC relationship, the current situation in Taiwan, cross-Strait relations and the political and economic challenges that lie ahead. I understand there have been some very useful presentations and arguments on some very complicated positions. Here are some of our thoughts.
This has been an extraordinary week in Taiwan and in the development of democracy in Taiwan. A president, re-elected in a free and fair election, was inaugurated. At the same time legal challenges to that election and its results are proceeding through the Taiwan judicial system. Peacefully. All Taiwan citizens can take pride in Taiwan democratic accomplishments and dedication to the rule of law and we join them in their pride, because no country in the world cares more about Taiwan success than its friends in the United States.
We have watched with admiration Taiwan emergence in a very short span of time as a great economy and a vibrant developing democracy dedicated to the rule of law and freedom of the press. We have been proud that through our "One China" policy based on the Taiwan Relations Act and the three communiques that we have helped ensure the cross-Strait stability that has made those economic, social and political achievements possible and will enable this democracy to continue to thrive and grow.
That said, and in a spirit of partnership that has characterized our relations with Taiwan, let me say at the outset that the U.S. position on U.S.-Taiwan-PRC relationship is clear and unambiguous. Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly recently articulated that position during his April 21 testimony before the House International Relations Committee. I would like to review for you some of the relevant thoughts he offered on that occasion.
Our U.S.-Taiwan Policy:
The core of our U.S.-Taiwan policy is this: The United States is committed to a China policy based on the three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. The U.S. does not support independence for Taiwan or unilateral moves that would change the status quo as we define it. For Beijing, this means no use of force or threat to use force against Taiwan. For Taipei it means exercising prudence in managing all aspects of cross-Strait relations. For both sides, it means no statements or actions that would unilaterally alter Taiwan status. The U.S. will continue the sale of appropriate defensive military equipment to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act. And as we view any use of force against Taiwan with grave concern, we will maintain our capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion against Taiwan.
President Bush and the senior leaders of this administration consistently make it clear to Chinese leaders that the U.S. will fulfill its obligations to help Taiwan defend itself according to the Taiwan Relations Act. But the U.S. has concerns that our efforts at deterring Chinese military coercion against Taiwan might fail if China becomes convinced that Taiwan is moving toward independence and permanent separation from China and concludes that Taiwan must be stopped in these efforts.
The Chinese Threat Is Real:
We strongly oppose the use of force by the PRC, but we must acknowledge that Chinese leaders have repeatedly refused to renounce the use of force despite our representations stating that they should do so. The PRC has stated explicitly that it would take military action in the event Taiwan declares independence. We strongly disagree with the PRC approach, but it would be irresponsible of us to treat these statements as empty threats. Moreover, PRC military modernization and the increasing threat to Taiwan indicate to us that Beijing is preparing itself to react in just such a possibility. China missile deployments against Taiwan are increasing every year. We encourage the people of Taiwan to regard this threat as seriously as we do. Responsible, democratic and restrained leadership will be needed to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for Taiwan.
In the Taipei-Washington-Beijing relationship, we need to work together; we need to build trust; and we need to make progress. This requires sometimes speaking plainly, whether the subject is developing democracy, changing the constitution, or opposing unilateral changes to the status quo.
We are committed to offering Taiwan self-defense weapons and services to help Taiwan defend itself. And Taiwan leadership, after years of declining defense budgets, has stated it intends to spend more to meet its self-defense needs. Taiwan needs to continue to modernize its military to be able to meet the task of defending against the PLA increasingly modern capabilities. We stand ready to assist in appropriate ways as Taiwan most reliable supplier of weapons and training. Taiwan leaders need to make the case to the public that the threat Taiwan faces is real and requires immediate attention. We believe that a secure and self-confident Taiwan is a Taiwan more capable of engaging in political interaction and dialogue with the PRC. We expect Taiwan will not interpret our support as a blank check to resist dialogue.
Trust Is Important:
Though the U.S. is not directly engaged in the disputes between Taiwan and the PRC, we want to help foster an environment in which cross-Strait differences, of crucial interest to us, can be managed or resolved. Taipei and Beijing need to maintain good relations and built the kind of trust that is conducive to dialogue under conditions acceptable to both sides. Ultimately, the Taiwan issue is for people on both sides of the Strait to resolve. And we continue to urge Beijing and Taipei to pursue dialogue as soon as possible, through any available channels, without preconditions. Our position on dialogue between Taipei and Beijing continues to be embodied in the so-called "Six assurances" offered to Taiwan by President Reagan. We will neither seek to mediate between the PRC and Taiwan, nor will we exert pressure on Taiwan to come to the bargaining table. Our foremost concern in encouraging trust and dialogue is maintaining peace and stability in order to advance U.S. interests, to spare the region from war, to safeguard Taiwan's democracy, and to promote China constructive integration into the global community.
Progress is Important:
Just as Taiwan continues its efforts to move forward to develop its democracy and just as it begins to address its self-defense needs, it needs to find ways to make progress on its cross-Strait issues and on aspects of its economic development. In the absence of political dialogue, to build trust, we encourage the two sides to increase bilateral interactions. Clearly, as Secretary Kelly noted, there are economic benefits for both sides of establishing direct aviation and shipping links. The increasing people-to-people contacts may also ease tensions. The two sides might begin to explore concretely the confidence-building measures they have been mentioning to reduce the chance for military miscalculation and accidents and improve communications in the event of a crisis.
Progress of the Economy:
We are impressed daily at how well Taiwan is weathering the economic changes wrought by globalization. Few economies in the world have moved with such grace and so quickly from agriculture to manufacturing to knowledge-based services. Taiwan ranks number eight in trade with the U.S., so continued economic advancement here is clearly in America's national interest and beneficial to American corporations. Even though China is now Taiwan's top trading partner, a significant proportion of exports from Taiwan to China are used in goods that ultimately end up in the hands of U.S. businesses and consumers. The U.S.-Taiwan trade relationship is therefore as important as ever.
The volume of bilateral trade is, however, only part of the story. Taiwan and U.S. businesses are also now engaged in fruitful collaboration to design new products and to build the international supply chains that will produce those products. The economic handshake across the Pacific between the U.S. and Taiwan is pushing numerous frontiers, including integrated circuit design, biotechnology, electronic gadgetry, and regional operations management.
Because Americans know that Taiwan has so much to offer to international commerce, we strongly backed the island's accession to the WTO. This is also why we continue to encourage Taiwan to follow through on all of its WTO commitments. We continue to work with Taiwan to pursue improvements in intellectual property protection. A strong IPR regime, with comprehensive laws and robust law enforcement, is essential to the continued transformation of the talents and skills of Taiwan's people into marketable assets. We also look to Taiwan to improve market access and transparency for rice imports, to meet its multilateral and bilateral commitments on pharmaceuticals, and to firmly establish an open market for telecommunications and construction services.
Taiwan has taken recent positive steps to address some of the outstanding issues on our trade agenda. If this progress continues, it will brighten prospects for stronger economic ties under our existing Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, and, if appropriate, future consideration of a possible Free Trade Agreement.
Taiwan economic relations with the PRC, which have been steadily liberalized in recent years, will be a major factor in Taiwan economic prospects. In 2003, China became Taiwan top trading partner, even without a direct cross-Strait transportation link. The PRC is also the number one destination for investment by Taiwan businesspeople. Diversification of foreign investment is always a prudent practice, as a realistic attitude toward China economic potential. With these principles in mind, Taiwan investment in the PRC can be a "win-win-win" solution for Taiwan, the PRC and the world economy as a whole.
In addition to concern about over-dependence on a potential adversary, Taiwan worries that direct cross-Strait links could speed the "hollowing out" of Taiwan economy and create problems of unemployment in Taiwan. While these concerns should not be dismissed, these issues need to be seen in the broader context of global interdependence. Cross-Strait trade is not occurring in a vacuum, and both sides are connected to world trade.
President Chen Inauguration Address:
President Chen inauguration speech was responsible, constructive and statesmanlike and we take him at his word. The President touched on important issues, not the least of which were issues dealing with the development of Taiwan democracy and the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait. We appreciate President Chen commitment that his administration will not take steps that would unilaterally change the status quo. By underscoring his administration openness to seeking accord with Beijing and reaffirming its commitments on cross-Strait relations, President Chen address creates an opportunity for Taipei and Beijing to restore dialogue across the Strait. In this context, we note that Beijing May 17 statement on Taiwan also included some constructive elements. We urge Beijing and Taipei to seek creative means to build mutual trust and good will.
We congratulate President Chen and the people of Taiwan on their commitment to democracy. With democracy comes responsibility. As Taiwan pursues its efforts to develop its democracy, we look forward to the transparent, consultative process that should characterize the development and reform of democratic institutions every step of the way. As free societies develop their democracies, responsible leaders strive to ensure that choices and their consequences are clear to the people for whom these choices are being considered.
The U.S. and Taiwan share mutual interests and are part of an "alliance of values" - the recognition that the freedom, democracy, human rights and peace we all seek for our citizens are interrelated. What holds for the development of democracy within Taiwan also holds for the development of relations in the very complicated area of Taiwan-U.S.-PRC relations - that transparency and consultation should characterize the process, that choices be clear, and that the interests and values of all be considered.
Durability of the Taiwan Relations Act:
The TRA, along with the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques and our one China policy, has been the key to maintaining peace and stability in the western Pacific while helping to ensure Taiwan's prosperity and security.
Our policy and the TRA have made vital contributions to easing tensions between Taiwan and the PRC and to creating the environment in which cross-Strait people-to-people exchanges and cross-Strait trade flourish and create, we hope, the necessary conditions for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait differences. The TRA has demonstrated its durability over the past 25 years and has been the cornerstone of the strong non-official relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan based on common values and common interests. Taiwan is a good friend to the U.S. as the U.S. is to Taiwan. Taiwan can count on U.S. support as it addresses its many challenges and the U.S. also expects Taiwan to respect its interests in stability embodied in the Taiwan Relations Act.
So, in closing, the challenges before our two leaderships are daunting, but not overwhelming. The path to where we stand today has followed a tortuous, but ultimately success-filled route. With patience, persistence and good judgment, the path ahead promises even greater success.