AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt Press Roundtable Taipei, January 25, 2011

AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt holds press roundtable. (Photo: AIT Images)
OT-1102E | Date: 2/01/2011


Chairman Burghardt:  Good afternoon.  It’s good to be with you.

This has been a relatively short visit to Taiwan.  I had just been here at the beginning of last month.  This visit was explicitly to, I was asked by the American government to brief the Taiwan government and other friends here including all of you about the visit of General Secretary Hu Jintao to Washington, the United States.  And so I was able today to meet with President Ma Ying-jeou and I also met separately, together with President Ma and also separately with National Security Advisor Hu Wei-chen.  I met yesterday with Foreign Minister Yang.  I met also yesterday with the Chairwoman of the DPP Tsai Ing-wen.  And I had lunch today with King Pu-tsung also.

In terms of the visit of Hu Jintao, I was in Washington last week and I was there during the same time that the President and General Secretary Hu were there, and also after he left, and I was briefed in great detail by people who were in all the meetings that he took part in, and also by people who took part in all of the very long, difficult, protracted negotiations over the Joint Statement

So I’ll begin by making a few comments specifically about the Joint Statement.

I think one of the things I would say about it was that the United States, in going into these negotiations and throughout them, we believe that the result was we purposefully, with intention, constructed a document that in no way violates any of Taiwan’s interests.  And I would say that we kept Taiwan in mind during the process of negotiating the document.

The result is a document that in no way breaks any ground on any issues, any new ground on any issues that would be of concern to Taiwan.

The Chinese side came into the negotiations with an intention of trying to break new ground.  First of all, they wanted it to be called a communiqué, nice try.  [Laughter].  We said no, it would be a Joint Statement.  They wanted it to have repeated references to the phrase “core interests” and our position throughout was that the phrase “core interests” has caused a certain amount of difficulty and misunderstanding.  We reminded them of the problems, for example, that the phrase “core interests” had caused for China itself in Southeast Asia.

So we made clear that we would prefer to have no joint statement rather than a statement which used the phrase “core interests” and so it did not.  You won’t find those words in the document.

If you look through the document I think you will see that it avoided a lot of the potential sort of linguistic minefields that could have caused problems in the future for the United States or problems also specifically for Taiwan.

There have been a couple of questions I’ve received, we have received also, about one of the phrases in the document, so let me just address it.

There is a place in the Joint Statement in which it says that “The U.S. is looking forward to efforts by both sides”– meaning both sides of the Taiwan Strait — “to increase dialogues and interactions in economic, political and other fields.”  Some people have raised questions about the word “political”.  This is exactly the same language that was in the November 2009 statement.  So I would simply repeat what I said then, and what we’ve said many times afterwards, which is the U.S. has always made clear that we don’t play any role as mediators and have no interest to be mediators between the two sides of the Strait.  We take no position on the negotiations between the two parties.  The pace of their negotiations, the timing of the negotiations, the subjects that they negotiate are completely up to the two sides to decide, and very specifically up to Taiwan to decide.  And we’re quite comfortable with the speed, the pace of the negotiations.  We have no impatience about it.  When to talk about subjects that could be described as political subjects is completely something for President Ma and the government and people of Taiwan to decide.

I would also note that the word “political” doesn’t necessarily refer to issues relating to sovereignty.  If Taipei and Beijing talk about Taiwan’s participation in international organizations or Taiwan’s international space, that’s a political subject.  At least in our definition of political.

I think I’m going to leave it there.  This was basically the briefing I gave in terms of the, this was about the joint statement.  In terms of discussions about sort of the private discussions that took place during the visit by Hu Jintao, as has been the case for really I think the last few years, really.  The amount of discussion about Taiwan was very little.  Extremely limited.  The major security issue — Obviously you all know there was a lot of discussion about economic and trade issues, about China’s currency, all those familiar issues.  In terms of security issues, the focus was very much on the Korean Peninsula and North Korea’s nuclear aspirations.  Those were the danger of proliferation of nuclear weapons because of North Korea’s behavior.  That was really the core of the negotiations on security issues, both in the Joint Statement and in the private talks between the two leaders and their assistants.

On Taiwan, of course there was, as always, that’s always an issue that is raised by Beijing.  We don’t have to raise it.  We know they will at some point.  And there was, as usual, there were appeals to reduce, end eventually sales of arms to Taiwan.  They always raise that and we explain that we have our commitments.

I would just end by reiterating that in President Obama’s press remarks where he gave a press conference together with President Hu Jintao, in the opening remarks by President Obama he did reaffirm our commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act.

Why don’t I end there and take your questions.

Question:  Robin Kwong from the Financial Times.

Did the issue of Taiwan’s missile tests on the day that General Secretary Hu arrived, did that ever come up?  Or was it sort of mentioned?  And also, I presume sort of there isn’t much change in the status or issue of arms sales to Taiwan after the visit.

Chairman Burghardt:  No one told me that the issue of the missile test came up, and I’m sure they would have told it to me.  They really gave me sort of every word that had anything to do with Taiwan, and that was not mentioned.

The question of arms sales to Taiwan, as you know this is an issue that we do not discuss with Beijing.  That is our policy.  And we make the decision best based on the threat to Taiwan and based on our conversations and discussions about that threat level with the leadership of Taiwan.

Question:  Jonathan Standing from Reuters.

Just to follow up on that comment.  What is the situation?  Taiwan has a long-pending request for advanced U.S. arms which you say you have your commitments and you restated your commitments and you did not discuss it, but it seems that from the Taiwanese point of view that this issue is not being discussed with them either.

Chairman Burghardt:  We discuss it with Taiwan all the time.  We have regular discussions with Taiwan about a whole range of military issues.  We talk with Taiwan about major weapons.  As I mentioned when I was here last time, I spend a lot of my time in Honolulu and I use the offices of the Pacific Command when I’m there, part of the time, and I see the coming and going of delegations from Taiwan at all different levels from general officers down to sergeants.  Whether it’s sharing of information or advice or training.  As I said last time, our military relationship, our military-to-military relationship with Taiwan is so much more than arms sales, but arms sales are certainly part of it and will continue to be part of it.

Media:  [Inaudible]?

Chairman Burghardt:  It’s still an open question.

Media:  Chiu Yu-tzu, Bureau of National Affairs from Washington, D.C.

Chairman Burghardt:  Is that a press organization?

Question:  No, it’s a media.

Chairman Burghardt:  I was just curious.  I wanted to educate myself as to what it was.

Question:  The focus of President Obama’s Asian trade agreement policy this year is actually the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  And Taiwan also expresses interest to join it.  I’m wondering does the U.S. support Taiwan to join the coming discussions?

Chairman Burghardt:  As I understand it, this is about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  There is an existing group of I think four members, and then there are several countries, including the United States, which are in negotiations to become members.  The plan is that the negotiations concerning the current applicants, the countries that are now participating in negotiations to join will be resolved first before opening up to another group of countries.  It sort of has to be that way because the negotiations have already gone a long way with the current group and if you brought someone else in now it would be very confusing to the negotiating process.

The U.S. position is that we are open to the idea of Taiwan participating in the negotiations.  Full stop.  But I would say that the process requires consensus of the existing members.  Therefore it would be important for Taiwan to contact, to make its views known and to talk to the other members.  It’s not good enough only to talk to the United States.  Taiwan would have to approach the other members and talk to them about its interests and why it should be a member of the TPP.  That’s the way I would answer that.

The other thing I would point out is that unlike a lot of Asian trade agreements which are sort of early harvest, partial, half-baked trade agreements, the TPP is a real honest to God trade agreement.  It’s an agreement in which you really have to be prepared to open up your market and you really have to liberalize to be a member.  So Taiwan would have to decide that it was ready for that kind of trade agreement.

Question:  Amber Wang of Agence France-Presse, the French News Agency.

I have a question on the military arms sales.  My question is, why hasn’t there been any actual progress on Taiwan’s request to buy the F-16 jets?  And what’s been the reason for the limbo?  Could it still happen before President Ma’s term ends next year?  Thank you.

Chairman Burghardt:  I remember getting a lot of questions like that about arms sales just before we made the announcement of the six-plus billion at the end of the Bush administration and just before we made the announcement of the six-plus billion not too long ago in the Obama administration.

So we’ll see.  [Laughter].  We just don’t talk about it until we do it.  That’s really the answer.  These are things that are decided by, we’re in talks with Taiwan, we look for the right time to do things.  There are in fact a number of other major weapon systems that have to be considered that are frankly ahead of F-16Cs and Ds in the queue of arms to be worked through and processed and decided on.  All good things come in their own time.

Question:  My name is Koo Shu-ren, CommonWealth Magazine.

I have a question about the U.S.-China Joint Statement.  In 2009’s statement the Taiwan issue was in the middle of the statement.  In this year’s statement the Taiwan issue is more like to the very first part of the statement.  Was it a request from the Chinese government to move the Taiwan issue forward?  And interestingly, the human rights issue comes right after the Taiwan issue.

Chairman Burghardt:  No one mentioned that point to me, including people who had spent countless hours in the negotiation.  I get the impression maybe it wasn’t something people paid a lot of attention to.  I don’t know.  It’s in the sixth paragraph.  It’s a rather long statement that gets into a lot of very technical non-political, in some cases even non-economic issues.  I wouldn’t attach too much importance to that.  I know this is the land of over-analysis here, but I really wouldn’t attach too much importance to that.

I think the thing to focus on is the content. You reminded me, though, I was looking at the language.  One thing I would point out just to note.  In the statement we say the United States, the U.S. side stated that the United States follows its One China Policy and abides by the principles of the U.S.-China Joint Communiqués and then we went on to applaud the ECFA and so forth. That’s the English text.  I have been told that if you look at the Chinese text, you can look for yourself, that while the English text says “its One China Policy” there is no “tade” in the Chinese text.  This is a game that’s been going on for 38 years, since the 1972 communiqué so I guess it will never stop.

Question:  My name is Alan Chen from Apple Daily.

USTR has responded to the press request about TIFA.  Is the current environment between the two sides, it’s now confusing for both sides to hold high level talks. I was wondering, while you talked to President Ma this morning, have you mentioned about this issue?  And also discussed why TIFA has been delayed or just not holding it?  Is it because of so-called beef issue or other issue?

Chairman Burghardt:  The U.S. side, of course we never did announce when we would have the TIFA talks.  Taiwan did I think sort of unilaterally announce when they were going to be held, but we had never actually set a date and announced it.

We’re going to continue to talk with Taiwan about all the trade issues we have, just as we always have had, but as far as holding what is actually called the Joint Council of TIFA, which is the actual term for the meeting, which is at the Vice-Ministerial level, this didn’t look like the right week to do it.  And yes, the atmosphere, as USTR said, the current atmosphere would not be very productive for TIFA talks at that level, and yes, I did talk to President Ma about the subject.

I forgot to mention that I also had a very good meeting yesterday with my friend Vice President Siew.  I always find his advice and his counsel particularly on trade issues to be the best and to be very useful, and we had a good talk about that subject.

Question:  Mr. Chairman, Debby Wu from the AP.

I have got more questions on the Joint Statement.

Chairman Burghardt:  More over-analysis probably.  [Laughter].

Question:  Yes.  Well, I am probably —

Chairman Burghardt:  Are you a Jesuit?  [Laughter].  Jesuitical analysis or Talmudic analysis.  [Laughter].

Question:  On the Joint Statement, although at the beginning you mentioned that this Joint Statement does not hurt Taiwan’s interests in any way, but the Obama administration appears to have formed the habit of not mentioning the Taiwan Relations Act —

Chairman Burghardt:  What about the Nixon administration, the Gerald Ford administration, the Carter administration, the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton — You’ll find the same thing about any statements they ever issued with China.

Question:  Right.  Then if that’s your answer then my next one is, you were talking about the [inaudible] and arms sales to Taiwan.  The thing is what happened after the announcement of the arms sales is that Beijing cut off military ties with Washington for over a year and Bob Gates’ visit to Beijing also had to be postponed for months.  Do you think this consequence has taught Washington a lesson in deciding its arms sales policy to Taiwan?  And what is it in the arms sales for Washington when it needs China’s economic and military help the most on various issues at this point?  And with China unveiling its new generation of fighter jets, why is F-16 still an open question?

Chairman Burghardt:  I’m not aware that we’re looking for any military help from China.  I didn’t quite understand that phrase.  But basically the answer to your question is no.  The fact that China developed a habit of breaking off military-to-military times every time we make an arms sale to Taiwan is something that we have said is a mistake.  We’ve told them it’s not in their interest.  But ultimately it’s not going to be behavior which will drive our decisions on whether or not to make arms sales to Taiwan.

We make arms sales to Taiwan, I’ll say the same thing I said before, we make arms sales to Taiwan based on the threat that is posed against Taiwan.  We make arms sales to Taiwan based on our discussions with the government in Taiwan.  We also, I would say also we consider that it is extremely important to Taiwan to be able to, and it’s something that President Ma has repeatedly said to me and he’s also said it publicly, that Taiwan feels that it must negotiate with Beijing in a position of confidence.  A large part of that has to do with Taiwan having military strength.  And we respect that view of the Taiwan authorities. It makes sense.  We have repeated it to Beijing.  They claim they don’t accept that analysis, but it’s our analysis and it’s Taiwan’s analysis.

We announced to Congress a $6.3 billion sale, really not that long ago.  It takes a while to work your way through acquiring $6.3 billion worth of arms.  In fact there are constant announcements all the time about contracts and about implementation of parts of that sale, which gives some people in Beijing a chance to complain every time there’s an announcement of a new contract.  So it’s not as if nothing is happening.  There’s a lot happening.

Question:  Lavai Yang from Want Daily.

What issues were included in the private talks between President Obama and Hu Jintao?  Was the Taiwan issue involved?

Chairman Burghardt:  I don’t want to go into too much detail about it, but it was pretty familiar grounds and largely concerned, a lot of it was focused on — There was some polite talk in which President Obama said essentially the same thing that he said publicly about how he thought the ECFA was a positive development and that it was good for the region as well.  Then there was the usual sort of appeals by China for the U.S. to reduce and ultimately stop its arms sales to Taiwan.  The response to that was to talk about the threat faced by Taiwan and to talk about our intention to not change our policy.

Question:  Chris Wang with CNA.  Can I have two questions?

Chairman Burghardt:  Yes.

Question:  Thank you.  The first one, U.S. signed an MOU with China on the establishment of the U.S.-China Governors Forum last week during Hu Jintao’s visit.  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon canceled a visit to Taiwan with a trade mission last December due to Chinese interference.  So do you think the establishment of such forum will lead to more Chinese interference of the U.S. Governors’ visits to Taiwan in the future?

The second question is, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in his January 11th media roundtable during his visit to China that over time if the environment changed and if the relationship between China and Taiwan continued to improve and the security environment of Taiwan changed, then perhaps that would create a condition for the U.S. to reexamine all of this.  He also said he’s not trying to imply any change in U.S. policy whatsoever.  So can you explain the definition and meaning of a changed security environment?

Chairman Burghardt:  On the first one, a very interesting question.  I missed the idea of the U.S.-China Governors Forum.  There were so many agreements signed last week in Washington.  But it is true that apparently it was the Chinese Consul General in Chicago, or where was it, who put —

Question:  [Inaudible].

Chairman Burghardt:  I saw the letter, but I’m trying to remember whether it was Chicago or whether — It was Chicago. I know that Consul General.  He was in Shanghai when I was there.  I won’t say any more.  But yes, he wrote, Mr. Yang, right.  They did put pressure on the Missouri Governor.  We’re aware of other cases like that.  I hear about them sometimes.  Governors tell me that they got complaints from a Consul General here or a Consul General there because President Ma was going to make a stop in their city, or because of something like that.  We very strongly protest, when we find out about those cases we very strongly protest that to the Chinese government at a high level, to their embassy in Washington.  It’s absolutely unacceptable and also inconsistent with all their professions of desire to improve cross-strait relations to treat Taiwan that way.

I think it’s a serious matter.  I would not be concerned that this will result in — They may try to increase the pressure on the governors, but my impression is most American politicians, American governors, they don’t like to be pushed around that way.  I’ve had a lot of them tell me that.  They usually go ahead and make the visits that they wanted to make to Taiwan and do the deals that they wanted to make with Taiwan.  I would be pretty confident that they’ll continue to do so.

On the second question about Secretary Gates’ statement, if you read the entire statement, it’s a pretty sophisticated statement of the situation and he makes clear in the statement that he’s not talking about anything that would happen in the foreseeable future.  He’s talking about something way, way in the future.

I would say if I were asked the same question, I would answer it as I have in the past. I’m not saying anything I haven’t said in the past.  That it’s a question of — China now has an offensive posture militarily toward Taiwan.  And the offensive posture has a number of components.  Certainly not limited to missiles.  It includes other weapons, includes cyber warfare, it includes having Taiwan as an espionage target, it includes the anti-secession law as a kind of legal framework for the offensive posture.  In response, Taiwan has a defensive military posture, to defend itself against all that.

Maybe that situation will some day change.  We can all certainly hope so.  If it does change then Taiwan could come to us, the United States, and say we’d like to adjust our defensive posture.  We need more of this and less of that.  And because we listen to Taiwan and because our decisions about defense aid to Taiwan are based on Taiwan’s perceptions of its needs, then we would talk about that.  In that day, who knows how many decades from now, then perhaps there could be some change.  That’s a little different kind of an answer, but I think it’s really what the Secretary meant.

Question:  Mr. Chairman, Walter Yu of Economic Daily News.

Two questions.  Taiwan and China will embark on a new series of trade talks following the very [inaudible] of ECFA in fact from this year, and they will be the major issues for the cross-strait talks for this year, like the goods trade and services trade and investment protection, et cetera.  Is there any topic of the following cross-strait trade talk that the U.S. is paying attention to?

A second question, I remember when you came over last time you gave a speech to the AmCham.  You mentioned, if memory serves, in addition to TIFA the U.S. is also thinking about building blocks of reaching a more comprehensive Taiwan-U.S. [inaudible] relations.  The lack of transparency, customs.  And the U.S. had mentioned previously that there may be some consideration by the U.S. to talk to China, for example the bilateral investment trade.

Chairman Burghardt:  To talk to Taiwan, you mean?

Question:  Sorry?

Chairman Burghardt:  You mean to talk to Taiwan about.

Question:  Thinking about it.

Chairman Burghardt:  Yeah.

Question:  In light of the current progress on TIFA, is there anything that we can look forward to on these building blocks?

Chairman Burghardt:  You’re right, the next year and more there will be follow-up talks for sort of to build out a more complete ECFA, really.  We follow this very carefully.  We follow it because we are a major trading partner with Taiwan.  We have a lot of investment in Taiwan.  So understanding how the ECFA and all the follow-on agreements will be is important for the United States as a trading partner with Taiwan.  It’s important for American businesses to understand whether rules are going to change or new opportunities will open up which can help their businesses or affect their businesses in any way.  So for all those reasons of course we follow it very carefully.

We also, as I mentioned when I was here last time, we also look forward to the day when the two sides — Taiwan, Mainland China, feel that they’ve carried the ECFA process far enough so that they will be prepared to report their agreement to the WTO which is something they have to do at some point.

As far as the building blocks of U.S.-Taiwan relations, there are a lot of things we could do, and there are a lot of things — some of those things are pretty far along like perhaps an e-commerce agreement is probably almost complete, really.

Question:  [Inaudible]?

Chairman Burghardt:  An e-commerce agreement, electronic commerce agreement is something — I don’t know if it’s complete, but there’s been a lot of progress in terms of working on that kind of an agreement.  Maybe it’s not complete yet but there’s been a lot of progress on it.

We also have had things like, as you mentioned, I’m not saying when they would happen but things that would eventually be a good idea are things like an investment agreement, as you mentioned, would be a good idea; an agreement against double taxation. There are a lot of things which could be good agreements.

I’d say the process on some of them has been faster than others, but we do continue to talk about these issues.

Question:  (Shih Hsiu-chuan from the Taipei Times).  I have a question about the TIFA issue.  I know you haven’t formally announced [inaudible] this month, but I don’t understand what you mean by [inaudible] not productive for the discussion.  According to Taiwanese government it is more or less because of the beef issue.  As you said last year in speech in AmCham, you say maximum residue level will be an issue to be discussed during the TIFA meeting.  So my question is why do they use TIFA as their platform to solve your difference?

A second question, the U.S. government has been urging Taiwan to adopt international standard for [inaudible] permit.  But actually there is no international standard now.  International standard was just [inaudible].  It was not ratified by codex.  So I wonder what your reaction to this is.

Chairman Burghardt:  I’m not an expert on beef.  I thought no one would ever ask about beef.  Why don’t we talk about it a little bit.

First of all, the beef that the U.S. exports to Taiwan is, as I hope you all know, exactly the same beef that we eat in the United States.  It’s exactly the same beef that we feed to our children.  It’s also exactly the same beef that we export to Japan, to South Korea, to Mexico, to many many other countries.  Ractopamine, which is a food additive, there are something like 100 food additives that are in fact legally cleared to be used in Taiwan.  Taiwan uses lots of food additives.  Ractopamine is approved for use in the United States and in 25 other countries.  Taiwan in 2007 conducted its own risk assessment of Ractopamine and found that Ractopamine was safe for use.  Taiwan’s own laboratories of your Ministry of Health made that conclusion.  And Taiwan notified the WTO in August 2007 that it intended to implement a maximum residue level for Ractopamine use in beef, and it actually provided the numbers, the figures of the level that it was prepared to accept.  Those were exactly the same figures that had been established by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives which is an international scientific committee appointed by the WHO, the World Health Organization, and the FAO, which is the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

So Taiwan is to be applauded for having taken that step in August 2007.  That was a smart step based on science.

However, as we all know there were demonstrations by pig farmers who didn’t like this step.  So this step was never implemented formally in Taiwan.  But the fact is that there was no scientific basis for not implementing it.  The level, as I said, 25 countries around the world have chosen MRLs for Ractopamine based on their own scientific studies or based on the scientific studies that were done by the international UN body that I mentioned, the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives.  So there is no scientific basis for questioning the safety of the use of Ractopamine with the MRLs that are set by the U.S., Japan, Korea, and so many other countries.

So what we’re asking Taiwan to do is to take actions that are consistent with its own Department of Health’s scientific assessment and with what Taiwan’s own government proposed to do in August 2007.

Now in terms of atmosphere for TIFA talks.  Press conferences about Ractopamine, ordering removal of beef from supermarkets live on national television, creating a public misperception that there is a risk to public health when in fact these products are safe and consumed throughout the world every day, is not what I would call a good atmosphere, especially when I note, we note that back in December there were also raids on ten pig farms for marketers of food additives in Taiwan.  They were raided in December in three counties in Taiwan for illegal additives.  Not ones like Ractopamine that had been tested throughout the world, but ones that have never been tested by anyone.  And those raids got very little press attention.  There were no press conferences.  There was no mention of these items on web sites of government agencies.  There were no cameras rolling because the press had been invited along when it happened.  So that was what I would call a different kind of atmosphere and we saw a distinction in the way imported products were handled versus the way domestic products were handled.  So that all had an effect on the mood.  [Laughter].

Question:  Martin Williams from the Kyoto News Agency.

Are you able to give us a rundown about your conversation with Tsai Ing-wen?  Thank you.

Chairman Burghardt:  Tsai Ing-wen is an old friend.  I’ve known her since I came here in 1999.  I love talking to her.  She is fun to talk to. She’s always intellectually stimulating and I learn a lot, too.  We had a good talk about the Hu Jintao-Obama meetings, about the Joint Statement.  I’ll let her speak for herself about what she feels about those things, but let’s say our conversation was quite congenial.  She did not scold me this time.  [Laughter].

We also talked about Taiwan domestic politics a little bit, and we talked quite a bit about the new think tank that the DPP is setting up.  In fact we did a walk-through with her and with Bi-khim Hsiao, we walked through the new think tank and we met some of the people and we looked at the place and how they were setting it up.

Question:  If there is one role the U.S. can play very well it’s going to be a role that it makes sure Taiwan has its own confidence in dealing with China.  So do you think the U.S. needs to be more active in its support to Taiwan?  In terms of its arms sales and its support to Taiwan to join the international organization in the coming years?  When people read every day in the newspaper about the U.S. analysis saying that the Chinese military threat has been increasing, but they are not seeing anything happen in arms sales.

Chairman Burghardt:  I think whatever we do, it’s probably never going to look like enough.  But as I said, there’s a lot that goes on and we do a lot, and the process of arms sales doesn’t end with the announcement of $6.3 billion being notified to Congress.  It’s an ongoing process.  Many of those weapon systems are now, there are various stages happening now in the delivery of those systems to Taiwan.  You don’t just sort of notify some of the Congress and everything arrives next week.  It doesn’t work that way.  But it’s only the notification to Congress that anybody pays any attention to.

Maybe your military should do more to highlight every little step that goes along the way.  I don’t want to criticize your military.  But I think there has to be some way to sort of get a better picture out there of what the military-to-military relationship is like and how rich it is and how constant it is and how busy it is.

I would say the issue of Taiwan’s sort of international participation and membership in other organizations, we take it very seriously.  We do a lot on that.  We help Taiwan all the time on things.  There was a problem, for example, in the Taiwan group that was going to be participating in the last UN climate change conference in Mexico, in Cancun.  And the registration system at the last minute was changed so that it became a sort of on-line registration system and the only option you had for a country that had anything to do with Taiwan was China.  So it took the U.S. working behind the scenes to get that changed so that the Taiwan delegates could register, the NGO delegates could register and could participate.  There wasn’t any publicity to that.  This is probably the first time anyone’s mentioned it to anybody here.  But we do stuff like that all the time.  We won that one.

There are many others, and we will continue to look for ways to help Taiwan improve its international representation.  Taiwan needs to talk to other countries as well, it does.  And sometimes it might not hurt to have a quiet talk with the Chinese about it also.

But you can rest assured that we’re the best friend Taiwan has.