AIT Director Kin W. Moy Press Conference

October 27, 2015

AIT Official Text #: OT-1525E


Director Moy: How is everybody? Good?

Good afternoon everyone. Thank you all for being here. I’ll just open with some brief comments, because I want to get to your questions.

The relationship we have with Taiwan is very important to the United States. We have fundamental values in common – including a commitment to free speech that respects the role of a free press in fostering public discussion and debate. So I have great respect for the work that you journalists do every day.

I am a relative newcomer to Taiwan, but I have spent the better part of my career working to forge strong relations between the United States and Asia and to formulate the policies that will ensure our bonds endure for coming generations, because, as President Obama has said, “The United States is and always will be a Pacific nation. American’s security and prosperity is inseparable from the future of this region.”

In the few months that my family and I have been here, we have seen firsthand what we have heard now for many years: Taiwan has transformed itself into one of the most dynamic places in the Asia-Pacific region.

Strengthening our longstanding friendship with the people on Taiwan remains a key element of the U.S. strategic rebalance to Asia. This friendship is grounded in history, shared values and our common commitment to democracy, free markets, rule of law and human rights. The U.S.-Taiwan relationship, though unofficial, continues to get stronger and stronger.

Before I take your questions I would like to share a few examples that demonstrate the strength and importance of our partnership with Taiwan.

Taiwan is a valuable partner for the United States in working with countries in the region to advance good governance, human rights, and democratic freedoms, and we very much value that partnership.

Soon after my arrival in Taiwan we were pleased to announce that the Department of State had, for the 6th year in a row, ranked Taiwan as Tier One in its Annual Trafficking In Persons Report. This ranking reflects Taiwan’s ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking, and more broadly, Taiwan’s strong commitment to protecting human rights.

On June 1st, just before I arrived, the United States and Taiwan launched the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, or the GCTF, to conduct joint training and capacity building initiatives to benefit third countries in the Asia Pacific Region and beyond. In August, Taiwan hosted our first joint effort under the GCTF to boost the capability of more than a dozen countries in the Asia Pacific Region to respond to the MERS outbreak. In December, we will hold our second GCTF project which aims to strengthen Dengue Fever prevention and response capabilities.

In 2014 the United States and Taiwan launched the International Environmental Partnership, the IEP; another example of a far-reaching U.S.-Taiwan cooperative project touching on issues of regional and global importance. Through the IEP Taiwan has hosted environmental training sessions in Southeast Asia and launched the Cities Clean Air Partnership which encourages cities across the Asia Pacific Region to reduce global air pollution.

We also value Taiwan’s participation in the Global Anti-ISIL Coalition and its contributions to addressing the humanitarian challenge caused by ISIL’s actions in the Middle East.

Through these efforts and more, Taiwan is raising its international profile and earning dignity and respect across the globe. We commend Taiwan for its important contributions to meeting global challenges.

Strong people-to-people ties between the United States and Taiwan are the foundation of our strong relations. AIT promotes cultural exchange by sponsoring outreach events, music programs and seminars. I was glad to see many of you a few weeks ago at the Daniel Pearl World Music Day in Taipei — the largest free outdoor concert in Northern Taiwan. This year’s concert brought together 15 musical groups and thousands of music lovers to show support for tolerance and freedom of the press.

And AIT continues to try to make it as easy as possible for the people of Taiwan to visit, study and do business in the United States. Taiwan is the sixth largest source of foreign students at U.S. universities and colleges, and the fourth largest on a per capita basis, which is very significant considering Taiwan’s size.

I hope you’ve seen the news that this year AIT is celebrating the third anniversary of Taiwan’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program with a photo contest. In November 2012, Taiwan became the seventh economy in the Asia Pacific Region and one of only 38 economies worldwide to enter the Visa Waiver Program and enjoy Visa-Free travel for up to 90 days to the United States. Since then the number of Taiwan visitors to the United States has increased over 40 percent. We always post AIT events and activities like the photo contest on Facebook. I’m enjoying communicating on-line with our Facebook friends in Taiwan, and so I invite everyone to follow us there.

Just a few weeks ago U.S. and Taiwan trade authorities concluded the 9th Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, otherwise known as TIFA. We concluded the 9th TIFA Council Meeting. Deputy USTR Ambassador Holleyman’s visit for the TIFA was an excellent opportunity to deepen dialogue and enhance our longstanding trade and investment relationship. The TIFA continues to be a vital mechanism to expand our trade and investment links and covers the broad range of trade and investment issues important to U.S. and Taiwan stakeholders.

We support Taiwan’s efforts to strengthen trade and investment ties with a range of partners. In today’s complex globalized economy, it is a prudent strategy to ensure economic diversification and avoid over-reliance on any single trading partner. We also welcome the steps both sides of the Taiwan Strait have taken in recent years to reduce tensions and improve cross-Strait relations. We encourage authorities in both Beijing and Taipei to continue their constructive dialogue on the basis of dignity and respect.

Since assuming my post as AIT Director three months ago, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with President Ma and a number of other senior officials, as well as each of the presidential candidates and the mayors of a number of cities, and many representatives of the business and NGO communities. In each and every one of these discussions I learn something new and come away with ideas for potential areas of increased U.S.-Taiwan cooperation.

Some people have asked me since my arrival what I hope to accomplish during my assignment in Taiwan. I tell them that when I depart I would like the people of Taiwan to know that they have no better friend than the United States, and that America and Americans will continue to support Taiwan and be present as it defines its prosperous future.

With that, I’ll stop there. I apologize for the length of my opening remarks. I’m very very happy to be here. As many of you know, my wife is also a journalist, so if I don’t do press conferences like this, my wife will give me a hard time. [Laughter]. So no, I’m really pleased to be here and I hope that we have a very good exchange for the remainder of our time here.

Thank you very much.

Press: Debby Wu from Nikkei Asian Review. You mentioned when you depart you hope that Taiwanese will see Washington, America as [inaudible] best friend. I’m just wondering, well with the ongoing U.S. effort to boost ties with Taiwan, with the Obama administration’s rebalancing efforts in Asia. But do you think that Washington’s continuing efforts to boost relations with Taipei, particularly with a possible upcoming pro-independence and pro-democracy DPP government, will be seen to, as a provocative act towards Beijing, and then could it be raising tensions in a region that’s already has lot of instability regarding what’s going on in South China Sea and making Taiwan again Asia’s most important flashpoint? Thank you.

Director Moy: I don’t believe that. I think that Taiwan being a vital part of our rebalance is really a key to the peace and stability in the Asia Pacific Region.

We oftentimes when we engage with both sides, we talk about this as not being a kind of zero-sum game where if we improve relations with one side it doesn’t come at the expense of the other. In fact, we believe that engaging with both sides is very very much a positive and should be in the interest of capitals in Beijing and Taipei. So no, I don’t think that is a worrying point for me. I think that we will continue to forge positive relations. That’s what I’m here to do. And I think that in the end that will benefit the region as a whole. Thank you very much.

Press: My name is Jane Lee, I’m from ICRT the radio station.

Director Moy: Hi, Jane. How are you doing?

Press: I’m pretty good, thank you.

I’m sure you must be aware that there is a U.S. naval vessel, the USS Lassen that entered the South China Sea this morning. And they are challenging, at least that’s what the international media are reading, they are challenging China’s claim of the 12 nautical mile territorial waters. And since Taiwan has claimed many times that we have sovereignty over the Spratly Islands which includes the two reefs that the USS Lassen was trying to enter this morning. And so I was wondering if our government has been notified of this incident in advance. And what kind of purpose or goal the U.S. is trying to accomplish?

Director Moy: Thanks for your question.

I think it’s probably best, because of the nature of what you’re talking about, to refer those types of questions to our Department of Defense to respond to.

What I can say is that as a general matter I think the President has said this very clearly, that we will continue to operate in accordance with international law. And so I think we should just probably leave it at that. But again, we refer you to Department of Defense for more specific questions about the specific incident you’re referring to.

Press: My name is Yu-tzu Chiu from BNA.

My question would be about bilateral trade and economic relations. You just mentioned TIFA talks had very successful results earlier this month. My question is that do you see possible impact being made by KMT Chairman Eric Chu’s visit in November on bilateral trade relations? Is it possible to resolve any dispute such as the U.S. pork issue? Thank you.

Director Moy: I think there are a couple of questions in there. To answer the question about the KMT Chairman, I think as all of you know, we had an opportunity to meet last week and so what I told him during that meeting is that we welcome him to the United States at a time that’s appropriate.

We engage with all of the political parties here, all the major political parties, and I think that we do have a very strong relationship. And we will treat all of the political parties, all of the candidates on an equal footing with equal respect. That’s pretty much what I told him.

In terms of the topics that he discusses, I don’t really care to speculate on that because we’re too far into that, we’re very early in any discussion about a trip. So usually what happens is a little bit later to discuss issues. But I would imagine that any discussions would be private and we would have a chance to, I think you would have the best chance to raise with him what he intends to raise.

Press: Kyodo News, Shu-ling Ko. My question is about Japan. Japan has recently passed controversial security bills that will allow the country’s troops to fight overseas for the first time since the 2nd World War. So how do you see Japan’s changes in policy regarding the use of its Self Defense Forces, and how do you see such changes affect Taiwan? Thank you.

Director Moy: That’s a question I think that it’s sort of best to ask people here in Taiwan how it’s going to affect Taiwan. I think overall our relationship with Japan is a very positive one and something that we’ve been very proud of. Since the end of World War II we’ve been able to forge a very close relationship, an alliance relationship, and it is deeply embedded in our rebalance policy. We are firmly strengthening our relationship with all of our alliance partners including Japan, including Korea, Australia, and others, Philippines and others. So I think that this is a reflection of how far we’ve come in our relationship. But with regard to your other question about its effect on Taiwan, I think that’s probably best you ask that question of the Taiwan authorities.

Press: Thank you. I’m Cindy Sui from the BBC. I’ll use English, if you don’t mind.

I wanted to ask you about your opinion about the, you just mentioned that the U.S. has always supported constructive dialogue between Taiwan and Mainland China. Given that we’re only about three months before the presidential election and there are many opinion polls that show Tsai Ing-wen leading. And as far as I know, there’s no dialogue right now between the DPP and the Communist Party of China, any kind of dialogue at all between the two sides.

Is the U.S. concerned at all that the relationship between the two sides will be at a stalemate that would deteriorate? And —

Director Moy: I’m sorry. Can I ask you a question? I’m not sure I quite understood. Are you saying that there’s no dialogue between the two sides?

Press: The DPP and the CCP.

Director Moy: I see. Okay. I’m sorry. Please continue then.

Press: I’m curious if the U.S. government is concerned. If Tsai Ing-wen does win the election, would relations, cross-Strait relations deteriorate? And what would Washington do to try to promote strong ties between two sides and continuation of dialogue that we’ve seen in the past eight years?

Director Moy: What I can say about that is that we have said many times that we favor, we praise the dialogue between Beijing and Taipei because we believe that it has increased peace and stability across the Strait. So not only has it increased the peace and stability between the two sides, but we also believe that it’s contributed to the peace and stability throughout the entire region. So we are very very supportive of that.

That said, we believe that dialogue between the two sides should come at a pace, a scope, in a manner that is consistent with the desires of the people on both sides of the Strait, and that’s really an important thing.

So I think that it’s too early to speculate about the relationships that you were referring to. There’s a long way to go before this election. I don’t think that we want to get involved.

I think if there’s one thing we want to really emphasize, or I want to emphasize today is that there is an election in January and we should be, we are all in admiration of Taiwan because of the democracy that has been established here and that’s taken hold. And we ought to let the people of Taiwan make the decision. The United States is not going to get involved in any side, in choosing sides. We’re not in the business of doing that in elections overseas.

But I really think that to address those questions we would have to make sort of a leap forward in discussing that and I don’t think that’s really where we want to be. But we still do want to encourage a dialogue going back and forth. A continuance of the warming of relations because we, again, believe that it does help contribute to the peace and stability here.

Press: [[Through Interpreter] I’m Tang Pei-chun from the Central News Agency.

You have mentioned TIFA earlier that the 9th TIFA Council Meeting was held in Taipei. We learned that U.S. pork is the sole sticking point in the U.S.-Taiwan trade relations. Could you please elaborate on this U.S. pork issue?

Director Moy: I don’t think it would be accurate to say it’s the sole sticking point. We are discussing a broad range of issues and certainly agriculture would be one of those issues that we discussed during the TIFA Council Meetings.

I should refer back to what Ambassador Holleyman was saying after those discussions, and that is that certainly overall we are very pleased with the results of the discussions because we addressed everything, or a pretty broad agenda of issues, and that includes intellectual property, it includes pharmaceuticals and these kinds of issues.

So I don’t think it would be accurate to say that the United States is solely concentrating on one area.

Nonetheless we should say that on the specific issue of agricultural issues, we believe that Taiwan has work to do.

We encourage all of our trading partners around the world to implement food policies that are consistent with international standards and food policies that are science-based. We were unable to make as much progress as we would have liked during those discussions on that issue, but I know that we will continue the discussions down the road in the hopes of getting resolution.

If I can take a step back maybe to put into context the importance of these discussions in TIFA, though. Because my experience is that both sides gain a greater confidence when we discuss those issues that are difficult and challenging domestically. Here I think that what we’d like to do is build momentum in our trade relationship. This is what the United States is very much interested in and I know that Taiwan is very interested in joining regional economic integration and agreements that integrate Taiwan into the region.

If that is indeed the case and that is Taiwan’s desire, and I have every reason to believe it is, then it does have some work to do.

Press: My name is Marcus Hsiang from Formosa TV. I do my question in Chinese.

[Through Interpreter] I’m from FTV.

We know that under the U.S. rebalance to Asia strategy, the U.S. has strengthened its alliance with South Korea and Japan. So what kind of role would Taiwan play in this strategic alliance?

Also, will Taiwan be given the opportunity to participate in the RIMPAC exercise next year?

Director Moy: On the first question, I would say that any sort of discussions among East Asia countries in terms of security I think benefit the security. I don’t think that we should be discussing or we need to discuss Taiwan’s role in all of these sort of strategic issues per se. I think instead what we should point out, the continuing dialogues, the very positive dialogue among the militaries and the positive effect that will have on the region.

With regard to the second question, I just think that we engage in an increasing number of types of training events that benefit the Taiwan side and reflect our continued full commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act. That is something that has really pleased the U.S. over time.

Press: [Through Interpreter] I’m from Phoenix TV.

You mentioned earlier that the United States encourages a dialogue across the Taiwan Strait and you also mentioned that you have met with President Ma, Eric Chu, Tsai Ing-wen and James Soong. So currently Tsai Ing-wen’s proposal is to maintain the status quo. In the U.S. view, is the 1992 consensus the only viable option or do you think that it is okay to just say that to maintain the status quo?

Director Moy: I know, at the risk of sounding sort of like a broken record, I guess we don’t have records anymore so I don’t know what the modern-day parlance is. But we have said in public and fairly frequently that we support a dialogue between the two sides that leads to greater peace and stability. And I think that for us to comment on something, I think that question is best meant for others, but the United States hopes that there is a dialogue that yields fruitful results, and we continue to say that.

Again, it has to be, or it is a dialogue that should come at a pace and a scope that people on both sides of the Strait feel comfortable with. We do oppose unilateral actions. That has been our view for quite a long time now, that changes the status quo.

Press: [Through Interpreter] Taiwan Century News. There is a presidential candidate who proposed signing a cross-Strait peace accord. Do you think that is a good idea? And will that have any conflict with the Taiwan Relations Act?

Director Moy: Again, it would be speculating on my part to talk about agreements or proposed agreements that we’re really not a party to.

As I said earlier, there should be a dialogue on both sides that leads to a better understanding, leads to a warming of relations.

Now it also should come, it should be consistent with the aspirations, what the people on both sides of the Strait want, and those desires must be heard and must be understood.

So I think that is really the important part, that both sides of the Strait are comfortable with something like that, but it’s really speculative on my part because I’m really not familiar with what that involves, what you’re discussing involves.

Press: Good afternoon, sir. This is ETTV Huang Wei-han speaking. And I would like to present my question in Chinese, thank you.

[Through Interpreter] Mr. Huang from ETTV.

There is an issue that Taiwan people are currently talking about which is an identification card in the U.S. issued for people in poverty. And I’m wondering if there is really such an ID card.

Also you said you have met with Tsai Ing-wen and Eric Chu. Could you please give us your assessment of both of them?

Director Moy: A card that indicates poverty, did you say? Boy, I’m not really sure what that is. If you have more specifics we might be able to get back to you. Somebody can probably get back to you on that. It’s interesting, though, I hadn’t really heard that one. Maybe I should get such a card. I don’t know.

But I’ve had an opportunity to meet with all the candidates and I have to tell you, I know that this is going to sound like I’m trying to be like a diplomat in this case, but I have to tell you that each of the candidates are very very capable. I have nothing but the most positive impression of all of them. They’re extremely skilled, smart, thoughtful leaders, and it really is up to the people of Taiwan to make the decision. They each have their own experiences they bring to this. And just the fact that they’ve come this far and that they have expressed the desire to lead Taiwan in the next few years, I think that says a lot for all of them in terms of their commitment to public service, and for that as a public servant myself I have nothing but deep admiration for anyone who does that.

Just to conclude that thought though, the reason I’m here, the reason why all of my colleagues are here from AIT is to make sure that we forge a strong relationship with whomever wins. I have every confidence that we will develop very strong relations with whoever wins in January, and that we will continue to build on what is already a strong relationship. I have every confidence, and I think that the people of Taiwan should have every confidence that the United States will continue to forge this strong and enduring relationship.

Press: [Through Interpreter] Mr. Chen from Apple Daily.

Director, you mentioned that during the 9th TIFA Council Meeting that both sides did not achieve as much as they liked on agricultural issues. Is that issue the MRL for Ractopamine in U.S. pork? So does Taiwan need to resolve this issue before being able to participate in TPP?

Director Moy: As I said earlier, and this is based on what Ambassador Holleyman said, that we encourage all of our trading partners to implement or apply food policies that are of international standards and are science-based. So I think we should leave it at that.

The talks are very complex because that’s the nature of trade discussions. Again, what the Ambassador was saying is that concluding these kinds of agreements or making progress on TIFA talks does have a lot to do with building confidence of trading partners.

Now as it applies to something like TPP, I think this is very important. As I said earlier, we do believe that Taiwan has some work to do.

What it should do right now and what I would recommend, and look, I’m just you know, a government official here talking about this. People can take it with a grain of salt. But I would invite people in Taiwan, Taiwan authorities here, to review the TPP documents when they are published and that should come up fairly soon, and see what Taiwan has to do and if it still has the desire to pursue TPP in a possible expansion down the road.

That’s what we would recommend, to take a look at that, to see what kind of standards, the high standards that we have been talking about since really the establishment of the idea, the concept of TPP.

If Taiwan determines that it wants to continue in this effort, we would also strongly recommend that Taiwan engage with the 12 parties or the 12 members of TPP and not simply look to one or two countries. But this is a consensus kind of grouping, and Taiwan, as I understand, wants to become a part of this kind of regional integration or economic integration and in that, because it does, it should be engaging with all parties.

So we’re going to call this the consensus of 12.

Press: [Through Interpreter] I’m from Public TV.

Eric Chu said that he would discuss his U.S. visit with you and he also said that the courtesy, the treatment he receives will be as high as that of Madame Tsai. So would he visit the Department of State, Washington D.C., any other federal government agencies?

Director Moy: It’s too early to talk about specific parts of the schedule, but what I told Chairman Chu is that we maintain very strong relations with all the parties and we will make sure that we engage with each of the parties on equal footing, and we mean that very sincerely, and we have every intention of accomplishing that on this visit.

Just to finish off as clarification, we normally don’t talk about aspects of the schedules of private individuals or officials. That’s not something normally that the U.S. government will do. So I think it should be sufficient to say that we have every intention of fulfilling what we’ve already said is our commitment and that is to treat all parties equally.

Press: [Through Interpreter] Ms. Lu from TVBS.

I know that you met Hung Hsiu-chu before as well when she was the presidential candidate and then later on you met with Eric Chu. Hung Hsiu-chu didn’t have any plans to visit the U.S., but Eric Chu does. Would this change the U.S. view of this presidential election or of the presidential candidates?

Director Moy: It won’t change our policy of not taking sides. Again, we’re not in that business. We are confident enough as should all people be confident enough in the democracy here in Taiwan to let the people of Taiwan decide. And so that hasn’t really affected our thinking at all.

Thank you.