October 4, 2017
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Representative Kao, thank you for the kind invitation to participate in tonight’s celebration. It is my pleasure to be here representing the American Institute in Taiwan.
First, I’d like to again thank the Taiwan authorities for the generosity they demonstrated in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, donating $500,000 to the Red Cross, and an additional $300,000 to the City of Houston’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. I understand that there were also significant donations for hurricane relief from individuals and businesses in Taiwan. Taiwan’s donations will help speed recovery efforts and contribute to supporting the many victims of the hurricanes that have so devastated parts of the United States.
During my first year as AIT Chairman, I have witnessed the depth, strength, and growth of U.S.-Taiwan ties, across multiple areas of our relationship. The United States and Taiwan have, through the years, built a comprehensive, durable, and mutually beneficial partnership, grounded in our shared interests and values.
This is truly a long-term, enduring partnership. Taiwan’s friends should take comfort in the fact that the discussion in Washington is not whether to deepen our relationship with Taiwan, but rather how best to do so.
A key reason why my U.S. government colleagues value U.S. ties with Taiwan is because Taiwan has shown itself to be a reliable partner on the United States’ most pressing security challenges, challenges which threaten not only America but the world.
First among those is North Korea, with its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. We commend Taiwan for its recent decision to go beyond the requirements of the various UN Security Council Resolutions and ban all trade with North Korea.
Taiwan is also a valued member of the global coalition to defeat ISIS. To support this international effort, Taiwan has donated money and supplies to help people who have had to flee their homes in Iraq and Syria. AIT is currently working with Taiwan to finalize an additional contribution to support humanitarian survey and ordnance clearance operations in liberated cities.
Taiwan’s participation in the international community is vital precisely because Taiwan has shown time and time again both the will and the ability to play a positive role in addressing global problems.
Recognizing that Taiwan has much to offer, the United States will continue to support Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement for membership, and its meaningful participation in international organizations where statehood is a requirement.
The United States strives to help find new ways for Taiwan to expand its international space outside the traditional UN system. For instance, under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework – or GCTF – we work with Taiwan to address global and regional concerns by leveraging Taiwan’s strengths and expertise in areas such as public health, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, to help improve the capabilities of others in the region.
We value our work together in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum – or APEC –to advance women’s economic empowerment, energy, digital economy and other priorities.
We were also pleased that Representative Kao could attend the Community of Democracies Ministerial hosted by Secretary Tillerson in September.
While we work together to address regional and global problems, we should remember that cross-Strait stability is a necessary – if not sufficient – condition for broader regional prosperity and stability. Thus, the United States has an abiding interest in cross-Strait peace and stability. The security of Taiwan is central to the security of the broader Asia-Pacific region. Thus, none of us should take the security of Taiwan for granted.
We believe a Taiwan that is secure, confident, and free from coercion is better able to engage Beijing constructively. Such engagement, in turn, supports a stable and peaceful cross-Strait environment. That is why we work to expand Taiwan’s international space, build our economic ties, and maintain close security cooperation.
Over the past decade, the United States has authorized the transfer to Taiwan of some of the most sophisticated weapons, which Taiwan needed in order to maintain its self-defense capability. In June, the Trump Administration notified to Congress $1.4 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, underscoring the U.S. vow to uphold its commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act.
At the same time, security relations with Taiwan are about much more than arms sales. For example, we are supporting Taiwan’s efforts to overhaul its reserve forces and enhance jointness among its military services. These examples are emblematic of our continuing effort to fulfill both the letter and the spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act.
The United States will continue to make available to Taiwan defense articles and services necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.
Taiwan’s continued economic security and vitality are equally important to the United States, which is why we endeavor to deepen our economic ties. U.S.-Taiwan economic ties are extensive, as we have grown to become each other’s tenth- and second-largest goods trading partners, respectively.
We continue to work through the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement – or TIFA – process to address trade issues and market access barriers facing U.S. companies and investors. We are also actively identifying new opportunities for collaboration through our Digital Economy Forum, a venue for dialogue between our public and private sectors on a wide range of cooperative topics.
The U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship is strong but could be even better. The United States firmly believes that if reinvigorated economic growth is to be achieved it will be done, in part, by pursuing the economic liberalization to which we have agreed through the TIFA mechanism. If we can successfully use bilateral mechanisms like the TIFA to resolve trade irritants between our two economies, it will help foster an even stronger and closer trade relationship.
I have had the honor of discussing our relationship with President Tsai – both in Taiwan and the United States. I know that she deeply values this relationship, and will do her part to move it forward.
My interactions with President Tsai have reaffirmed my conviction that she is a responsible, pragmatic leader. The United States appreciates her determination to maintain stable cross-Strait ties in the face of increasing pressure from the PRC on a number of fronts.
It’s clear that the current cross-Strait relationship suffers from a lack of trust and communication. The United States will continue to urge both sides to engage in constructive dialogue and to demonstrate patience, flexibility, and creativity in finding ways to engage with each other, in order to avoid miscalculation and resolve their differences.
The United States will continue to insist on the peaceful resolution of differences between the PRC and Taiwan in a manner that is acceptable to the people on both sides of the Strait. There should be no unilateral attempts by either side to change the status quo.
After all, peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations not only serve the interests of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait but also the interests of the United States.
The United States endeavors to improve our economic partnership, support Taiwan’s confidence and freedom from coercion, deepen the bonds of friendship between our people, and ensure that Taiwan has the ability to make positive contributions to the international community. The United States considers Taiwan a vital and reliable partner in Asia, one which continues to merit our support.
And I look forward to continuing to advance this important relationship. Thank you.