AIT Chair Rosenberger’s Closing Keynote at
Global Taiwan Institute’s Annual Symposium
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
2:15 – 2:45PM
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Russel, Global Taiwan Institute members and friends, and distinguished guests –
Thank you for inviting me to join this important conversation today. It’s an honor to be speaking alongside such esteemed leading experts and practitioners, and a privilege to offer remarks following a day of deeply insightful and productive discussion. It’s clear that in just seven years, the GTI annual symposium has established itself as a key venue for examining the issues and opportunities at the heart of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership. And these kinds of conversations are especially important as attention to Taiwan has risen on the agendas of policy makers, C-Suites, and the media around the world.
As today’s discussions show, in the past year alone, the U.S.-Taiwan partnership has only grown in importance. And under the Biden administration, the partnership between the United States and Taiwan has continued to broaden and deepen across numerous aspects of our unofficial relationship: economic, technological, security, democratic values, cultural, educational, people-to-people, and more. Today, it’s safe to say that the U.S.-Taiwan partnership is closer than ever. I believe there is great confidence in the U.S.-Taiwan partnership in both Washington and in Taipei, and that the support for this partnership extends across party lines in both places. And of course, the importance of Taiwan and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is increasingly recognized by a growing list of countries around the world.
So today, I want to talk about the core elements of the U.S. approach, opportunities to continue to grow our partnership, and the key role of the international community.
The U.S. approach to Taiwan is driven by our deep and abiding interest in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Preserving this peace and stability is a core tenet of the United States’ long-standing cross-Strait policy, and Taiwan is a crucial partner in this effort. And of course, the U.S. approach has remained consistent for over forty years and across administrations. We remain committed to our one China policy guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. The United States opposes unilateral changes to the status quo by either side and expects cross-Strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means.
And for over more than four decades, this framework has enabled not only the maintenance of peace and stability across the Strait, but also the growth of Taiwan as a beacon of democracy in the Indo-Pacific, a thriving economy that is one of the United States’ top ten largest trading partners, and a technological powerhouse with innovation that is critical to today’s global economy and societies. And as Beijing’s pressure campaign aimed at Taiwan grows, our approach will remain steadfast, as will our efforts to support a capable and resilient Taiwan. Let me lay out the pillars of the effort that we are pursuing to do so.
First, through our expansive economic partnership, we are advancing a shared vision for a prosperous, resilient, and diversified Taiwanese economy that is integrated regionally and globally. Disruptions wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of both supply chain resilience and interconnectedness in building sustainable economies. A Taiwan with robust foreign trade and investment, secure and resilient supply chains, and energy resilience is a Taiwan that is able to thrive, withstand regional and global shocks, and contribute its essential talents and expertise to the global economy.
Here are a few of our main lines of effort:
Strengthening our mutually beneficial trade and investment ties is one of the most important things we can do for the U.S.-Taiwan partnership, and that’s why we rightly spend so much time talking about them. Taiwan has long been a valued economic partner of the United States. In 2022, U.S. goods and services traded with Taiwan totaled an estimated $160 billion.
And in just the past several months, our trade relationship has significantly broadened and deepened. I need two hands to count the number of U.S. State Governors and Senior State Trade Officials that have visited Taiwan in recent months, including Arizona, New Mexico, and Michigan, to name a few. Eighteen U.S. states have either opened or are planning to establish a representative office in Taipei, and we applaud the most recent opening by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
And Taiwan investors continue to make their way to the United States; in May, Taiwan fielded the largest delegation of any foreign participant at the SELECTUSA 2023 investment summit at National Harbor.
Lastly, on the issue of double taxation, we recognize this problem, and are exploring potential ways to address it.
In June, under the auspices of AIT and TECRO, the United States and Taiwan finalized the first agreement under the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade: a major step in streamlining regulations to pave the way for increased trade and economic opportunities in both markets. This is about real trade in real goods—Taiwan exporters being able to ship more goods to the United States across the spectrum of our trade, and U.S. exporters sending more of what Taiwan industry and consumers need.
We held our second negotiating round of the initiative in late August, where we addressed important issues such as agriculture, labor, and the environment, with further negotiations expected. 21CT represents an advanced, high standards initiative that we can all be proud of and that will stand out within the broader Indo-Pacific region for its high ambition. Progress on 21CT can also help set the stage for new opportunities for Taiwan to develop similar arrangements with other partners.
We’re also working to create more secure and resilient supply chains that build sustainable economies in Taiwan, the United States—and the world. This is driven by initiatives such as the Technology Trade and Investment Collaboration framework, or TTIC, which works to facilitate deals between U.S. and Taiwan companies in the 5G, electric vehicle, energy, AI, semiconductor, and cybersecurity sectors. I want to underscore that the investment facilitated by arrangements such as the TTIC flows in two directions—building resilient supply chains requires fostering a healthy semiconductor ecosystem in both Taiwan and the United States.
For example, U.S. technology companies are substantially increasing their investments in Taiwan. In 2023 alone, several U.S. high-tech companies such as Micron, Qualcomm, and Merck Group, among others, have increased or announced their intent to increase investment in research and development in Taiwan. And Taiwan high-tech investment flows toward the United States, as well, spreading innovation in ways that bolster Taiwan’s world-class industry clusters at home. With 68% of the fabless market comprised of U.S. firms, and more than half of the global semiconductor foundry business in Taiwan, the United States and Taiwan are natural and mutually reinforcing partners in this endeavor.
And, we can’t overlook the importance of energy resilience in powering Taiwan’s economy. Two key provisions of the TTIC are to shore up cybersecurity protections and support Taiwan’s energy sector. Just last month, the Director of the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology traveled to Taiwan to meet with President Tsai Ying-wen, Digital Minister Audrey Tang, and others to discuss how to bolster collective cybersecurity capabilities as well as to adopt recommendations from NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework 2.0.
For Taiwan’s energy sector, both policymakers and companies have worked to identify technology, policy, and process solutions for building Taiwan’s energy resilience and support Taiwan’s clean energy transition. This means strengthening Taiwan’s grid and advancing the deployment of renewable energy and storage, which will help bring the skilled clean energy jobs of the future, among other initiatives.
Second, the United States continues to support Taiwan’s efforts to acquire self-defense capabilities, enhance its resilience, and reinforce deterrence in the Taiwan Strait. As we have said before, the United States’ commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and essential to the global interest in maintaining cross-Strait peace and stability.
The United States continues to work to ensure that Taiwan has the capacity to defend itself, and help Taiwan incorporate the right kinds of capabilities, concepts, and doctrines to support an asymmetric defense strategy. This includes through more than 50 billion USD in Foreign Military Sales cases, almost 5.9 billion USD of that in more than 20 notifications during the Biden-Harris Administration alone. Our arms sales remain commensurate with the needs of Taiwan. And, the Administration is using what tools are available to us to better support Taiwan.
To that end, we are reviewing existing security assistance authorities and seizing upon the full range of tools authorized by Congress such as the Presidential Drawdown Authority to achieve this objective. By using the Presidential Drawdown Authority this summer, the Administration announced for Taiwan the drawdown of up to $345 million in defense articles from Department of Defense stocks. Similarly, the Administration has announced the provision of Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training assistance for Taiwan. We have also designated Taiwan as eligible to receive Excess Defense Articles as grant assistance, which provides another mechanism to support Taiwan.
As Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Mira Resnick said in her recent testimony on the Hill: our security cooperation is not just about systems, it’s also about strategy.
Alongside U.S. efforts, Taiwan is taking unprecedented steps to underscore its commitment to its self-defense, which we applaud – including annual increases in the percentage of Taiwan’s overall GDP dedicated to its defense budget, and President Tsai’s announcement last year extending the length of Taiwan’s conscription program from four months to one year beginning in January 2024. And we are supportive of Taiwan’s “defense-in-depth” capacity through reforms the Tsai administration has already taken to its reserve forces, conscription, and mobilization systems.
Taiwan also needs the capacity to address Beijing’s daily pressure and grey zone tactics, and this challenge underscores the importance of bolstering Taiwan’s resilience beyond just the traditional defense space to a broader whole of society effort that integrates Taiwan’s defense and civilian agencies through a range of initiatives: hardening key infrastructure nodes, stockpiling food, and employing command and control capabilities that can function in a contested environment. Accordingly, the United States is working with diverse players in Taiwan such as the Ministry of Digital Affairs and Ministry of the Interior on these efforts. This effort means thinking beyond just traditional “defense” to a broader concept of “security.”
And of course, as has been our longstanding policy, the United States remains focused on maintaining the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.
Third, we are reinforcing deterrence and expanding Taiwan’s international space through raising global awareness of the importance of Taiwan and of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. As I noted earlier, there is growing recognition that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is a matter of concern for not only the United States, Taiwan, and the Indo-Pacific region, but the international community at large.
A growing number of states are reiterating this publicly, including in the statement released following the Trilateral Summit between the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea in August, which affirmed peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as “an indispensable element of security and prosperity in the international community.” The recent G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Statement at the UN General Assembly last month also underscored this point. In addition to joint statements, this support is evidenced through action, such as the recent joint transit of the Taiwan Strait by U.S. and Canadian military vessels.
This rise in international support should not be surprising, and I believe it is driven by two factors: 1) the increasingly coercive and provocative actions from Beijing, contrasted with Taiwan’s responsible behavior in the face of that pressure, and 2) a growing understanding of why Taiwan matters.
I think we all understand the dynamics of the first point, but let me spend a moment on the second point.
The world has much to learn from Taiwan: be it democratic resilience, pandemic preparedness, women’s health, promoting LGBTQ+ rights, countering dis- and misinformation, high-tech development, or electoral integrity. And Taiwan is a beacon of democracy in the Indo-Pacific and the world, and a model of expertise on many pressing issues. Taiwan’s COVID response is viewed as one of the most successful in the world, striking an effective balance between promoting public health and upholding democratic values. Taiwan also generously shared critical supplies such as PPE when others were in need, in addition to its know-how.
More broadly, as the 8th largest economy in Asia and 20th largest in the world by purchasing power parity, Taiwan is a critical player and outsized contributor to the global economy for its population of 23.5 million. In fact, fifty percent of the word’s container traffic flows through the Taiwan Strait; in 2022 alone, Taiwan exported goods with a total value of nearly $480 billion USD. Through fora such as the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, or GCTF, many governmental and non-governmental partners in the Indo-Pacific region and international community have been lucky enough to learn from Taiwan’s expertise, attending workshops on topics spanning sustainable development, law enforcement cooperation, internet freedom, and pandemic preparedness.
Taiwan is also a standard-bearer in terms of facilitating people-to-people exchange—another way we are lucky enough to learn from Taiwan. Taiwan hosts one of the largest Fulbright programs in the world, with over 300 American scholars and teachers per year. And the United States is working through the U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative to facilitate language teaching and learning in this area.
The Biden Administration is committed to expanding Taiwan’s engagement with likeminded partners and diplomatic allies, and we encourage and support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations, including as a member in organizations where statehood is not a pre-requisite.
We applaud Taiwan’s contributions in organizations such as APEC, where Taiwan makes important contributions to building APEC as an institution and to APEC economies through its expertise in areas such as the digital economy, agricultural biotechnology, and women’s economic empowerment. I know the United States appreciates Taiwan’s robust participation in the eight sectoral ministerial meetings and numerous other meetings throughout our host-year, and we look forward to Taiwan’s participation in APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in San Francisco next month.
Finally, Taiwan is a model of democratic resilience, including in the face of pressure and coercive actions in the information space. Through both Summits for Democracy, Taiwan has made meaningful commitments to countering authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and advancing respect for human rights at home and abroad. Taiwan’s worldclass expertise in countering disinformation serves as a global model, as does its work to uphold transparent governance. Taiwan’s democracy consistently ranks as one of the strongest in Asia, with the Economist Intelligence Unit’s new 2022 Democracy Index ranking Taiwan as 10th in the world. Freedom House, just this month, ranked Taiwan as hosting the freest online environment in the Asia-Pacific region for its affordable access and free speech protections. And, turnout in Taiwan’s elections usually exceeds 70%.
The United States is confident in Taiwan’s democratic processes and its free and fair elections. And I’m sure everyone in this room is aware that it is once again election season in Taiwan. The United States will not take sides in Taiwan’s elections and looks forward to working with whomever the Taiwan voters choose as their next leader. As we have been getting to know the candidates, we have been committed to engaging with them on a fair and equal basis. The United States opposes outside interference by any actor in Taiwan’s elections. And of course, our policy will remain the same regardless of the elections’ outcome.
In many ways I feel like this is just the wavetops of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership, and as you can tell there’s quite a lot happening! And the work we are doing is made better by the intellectual and analytic work done by many of you here, that helps generate ideas and identify opportunities for us to seize.
So, thank you not only for having me here today, but for all the work you do in support of this critical partnership.