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AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk Opening Statement at the Press Conference

November 29, 2022


AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk
Opening Statement at the Press Conference
November 29, 2022

(As Delivered)


Good afternoon, everyone, thank you for coming today. It is fantastic to see all of you in person.


I have been reading your reporting and look forward to a great discussion today.


So, I’d like to kick off with a few thoughts for me then we can move to the Q and A.


The United States enjoys a strong unofficial relationship with Taiwan. At AIT, we work with Taiwan to advance a shared vision of an Indo-Pacific that is free, open, resilient, and inclusive.  We’ll continue to work to expand our cooperation with Taiwan on our many shared interests and values, to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the international community, and deepen our economic ties, all consistent with the United States’ one China policy.


I’d like to start off by congratulating the voters in Taiwan on the recently concluded elections.  AIT looks forward to continuing to work with those who were re-elected and to working with those who were newly elected once they take office at the end of December.


Since I first lived here in the early 1990s, Taiwan has developed into an advanced economy and a vibrant democracy, and the U.S.-Taiwan partnership has steadily deepened.  At the same time, the United States and Taiwan face a regional and global landscape that is more challenging and complex than ever before.


A key priority of the Biden administration is standing with partners – including Taiwan – to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values.  By exercising U.S. leadership, mobilizing fellow democracies, and fostering cooperation, we can create opportunities for a more stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.


The U.S.-Taiwan partnership clearly demonstrates this approach.  U.S. support for Taiwan is rock-solid, principled, and bipartisan and is entirely in line with America’s one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Joint Communiques, and Six Assurances.  AIT will continue to deepen engagement and connections with Taiwan consistent with U.S. interests and the interests of the people of Taiwan.  We firmly believe that the U.S.  support for Taiwan contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and helps to create a more stable and resilient region.


As AIT Director, I am focused on four primary objectives, all of which reflect long-standing U.S. policy priorities and have bipartisan support in Washington, including: 1) supporting Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities and resilience; 2) promoting global supply chain resilience; 3) supporting efforts to preserve and expand Taiwan’s international space; and 4) deepening our already excellent economic and people-to-people ties.


First, the United States remains committed to supporting Taiwan’s ability to defend itself and to strengthening Taiwan’s role as a regional partner.  We have a shared and abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.  We consider peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait to be central to the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region and to the world. We will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense needs in line with the Taiwan Relations Act. We will also continue to work together with our partners here in Taiwan on maritime law enforcement and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.


Second, we are working with Taiwan to promote global supply chain resilience.  As Asia’s “Silicon Island,” Taiwan is vital to the globe’s semiconductor ecosystem and is a cutting-edge pioneer on emerging technologies.  The pandemic-related supply chain disruptions over the past few years highlighted the need to work together to build resilient and global supply chains.  As a trusted, reliable partner, Taiwan plays a crucial role in achieving this goal.


Our third priority is working together to create opportunities that will expand Taiwan’s international space by enabling Taiwan to share its expertise in multilateral fora and to engage with other international partners.  Foundationally, we believe that Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UN system and other international organizations is a pragmatic issue.


Finally, economic and people-to-people ties are the bedrock of our relationship.  These ties are deep and historical.  I spoke earlier about working together to strengthen global supply chains for high-tech industries.  However, the U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship goes far beyond high-tech.  Taiwan was the sixth-largest consumer of U.S. agricultural products and our eighth-largest trading partner in 2021.  Of our top ten partners, only Canada and Mexico trade more with the United States on a per capita basis.  Following major investments in high-tech industries and advanced manufacturing by Taiwanese companies like TSMC, Taiwan is now the 4th largest source of inbound foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States.


And now I’m going to talk about some initiatives.  So the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade, which does not have an acronym that I can say, was announced on June 1st of this year under the auspices of AIT and TECRO. So I suppose I’m responsible for the lack of an acronym, but it does provide an exciting opportunity to deepen our trade and investment relationship. And we are hoping to do that by advancing mutual trade priorities based on shared values and promoting innovation and inclusive economic growth for our workers and businesses.  Earlier this month, November, we concluded two days of productive meetings in New York City, where both sides exchanged views on the key concepts to be addressed in several of the trade areas set out in the negotiating mandate for this new initiative.  I am really looking forward to seeing those negotiations proceed.


The recently concluded APEC 2022 meetings in Bangkok also reinforce the vital role that Taiwan plays as a regional economic hub. As the host of APEC 2023, the United States looks forward to expanding our economic ties with Taiwan through our APEC theme, which is “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All.”  We look forward to strengthening our engagements with Taiwan during the Senior Officials’ Meetings, which will be held in Palm Springs, Detroit, and Seattle, as well as at the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in San Francisco next year.


On the people-to-people side, AIT supports programs with partners in Taiwan on civilian resilience, economic empowerment for women and indigenous communities, combatting climate change, and jointly countering PRC disinformation. Taiwan currently has one of the largest Fulbright programs in the world, hosting over 300 American scholars and teachers every year.  And the U.S.-Taiwan Education Initiative is a concrete example of how we are working together to facilitate language teaching and language learning in support of both Taiwan’s and the United States’ priorities in this area.


A fifth and growing focus, I know I said I have four priorities but there’s a fifth one.  A fifth focus for cooperation that bridges the security and economic space is the urgent need to more effectively counter cybersecurity threats.  As the U.S. and Taiwan both work to safeguard critical infrastructure, private industry and public data from cyber threats, it is critical that we work together as partners and learn from each other with the end goal of bolstering resilience in this key area.


So you can see, the U.S. and Taiwan have a longstanding partnership that is only getting stronger as we jointly address new and emerging challenges.  I will stop here and look forward to a robust discussion with you all today.  Thank you.