OT-1107E | Date: 4/13/2011
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Premier Wu, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. It is a great honor to be here this morning to help inaugurate the 2011 International Conference on Homeland Security.
It is also a great pleasure to welcome Christa Bzrozowski, Director of the Office of Trade Security Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Alexander Lopes, Director of the Office of Nonproliferation and Treaty Compliance in the Bureau of Industry and Security at the U.S. Department of Commerce. They bring to this conference a wealth of knowledge of homeland security issues. I know we all look forward to hearing their contributions as well as those from Dr. James Chang of the Executive Yuan’s Office of Homeland Security and other specialists who are participating in this year’s conference.
The United States and Taiwan are major trading economies in an increasingly interdependent world, and because of this, we share a common interest in ensuring the exchange of goods, people and ideas. This has been the basis of our economic success. At the same time, we are open societies in an increasingly interconnected world. As such, we have an overarching duty to protect our citizens and ensure our security. The threats we face in today’s world, whether terrorist attack or natural disaster, respect no boundaries and have the potential to cause large-scale disruption to economic prosperity, political stability and the social fabric.
Nearly a decade ago, the attacks of September 11, 2001 underscored the transnational nature of the terrorist threat. Last month, a devastating earthquake and tsunami ravaged Japan. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan as they work to recover from this disaster. Although this was not a terrorist attack, it activated many of the same emergency response mechanisms in Japan and in the region. Here, Taiwan agencies coordinated with the American Institute in Taiwan to assist the departure of American nationals from Japan. The support of Taiwan’s authorities, especially those at the Taoyuan International Airport, was critical to the success of our effort, and I would like to thank them for that assistance.
Developing the mechanisms to protect our security, including the security of borders, critical infrastructure, and trade, is vital to our economic prosperity and our way of life. As citizens of vibrant democracies, we in Taiwan and the United States rely on dedicated public servants responsible for implementing policies that keep us all safe. Christa Bzrozowski, Alexander Lopes and Dr. James Chang of the Executive Yuan’s Office of Homeland Security represent a wealth of experience and expertise in this area, and I congratulate them and their offices on the excellent work they have done.
U.S.-Taiwan Homeland Security Cooperation
The challenge that Taiwan and the United States face is to maintain the dynamism of economic and commercial ties while ensuring that our openness, which creates that dynamism, cannot be used against us. I can say that our cooperation in this area has been very robust. Export controls and nonproliferation are noteworthy areas of successful bilateral cooperation. For the past seven years, we have worked very closely to keep sensitive technologies from terrorists and from the states which sponsor terrorism, while also facilitating normal, commercial trade.
This year Taiwan will be the first Asian economy to become a “Graduate Partner” with the United States under our Export Control and Related Border Security Program. This means that after seven years of export control cooperation, Taiwan has put in place an effective system and is ready to move to a new level in helping other interested economies in the region improve export control efforts.
Another area of cooperation is the Container Security Initiative. Since 2005, U.S. and Taiwan officials have worked together to implement this initiative in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung and Keelung ports. The CSI program ensures the safety of goods flowing from and through the United States and Taiwan, and facilitates the flow of Taiwan’s shipments to the United States. It also aims to ensure that all containers posing a potential risk for terrorism are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they proceed to the United States, and it detects other forms of illicit activity. For example, U.S. and Taiwan Customs officers have been responsible for identifying shipments of contraband items including precursor drugs, counterfeit currency, and products that violate intellectual property rights.
As another example, in 2003, the U.S. established the Megaports Initiative to strengthen the capability of foreign partners to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials through the global maritime shipping system. Since 2006, the U.S. and Taiwan have worked together to implement this program in Kaohsiung. The radiation detection equipment supplied by Megaports scans container traffic at a port, regardless of destination, with minimal impact on port operations and increases the security of seaports and seaborne trade. Although Megaports was designed to detect illicit shipments, the capability is now also proving useful in scanning shipments for unintentional contamination in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear accident. Together, CSI and the Megaports Initiative are potent symbols of the commitment of Taiwan and the United States to international security.
The newest addition to this already robust agenda of cooperation is the area of passport security. The United States is pleased that Taiwan is taking steps to address vulnerabilities in the process for applying for Taiwan passports. As you know, the Taiwan passport is a sound document with state-of- the-art security features consistent with ICAO standards. However, because those applying for a passport are not required to make a personal appearance, criminal gangs have been able to obtain Taiwan passports for people who are not entitled to them. Just three weeks ago, the Taoyuan District Prosecutor’s Office announced the indictment of 57 Taiwan citizens suspected of involvement in a ring that smuggled minors from mainland Chinese to the United States on fraudulently-obtained Taiwan passports.
To prevent criminal elements from obtaining Taiwan passports and to reduce the fraudulent use of Taiwan’s passports, Taiwan on March 1 began a pilot program allowing travelers to apply for passports in person at MOFA offices and Household Registration Offices. This allows their identities to be verified in a simple but effective process. We understand that more than 46,000 applicants used this process to apply for passports in person in March alone. We hope that Taiwan will soon be able to make personal appearance mandatory for all first-time passport applicants so that we can be confident that only legitimate Taiwan travelers are able to obtain Taiwan passports.
Throughout all these efforts, our shared goal is to develop effective procedures to enable the United States and Taiwan to cooperate in safeguarding our mutual security. As our economic and commercial ties with each other and with the rest of the world expand and deepen, as the flow of students, tourists, businesspeople, academics and others continues to grow, we will continue to work together to maintain the vitality of our current cooperation.
The United States and Taiwan have long valued the flow of ideas and people between us which has allowed both of our societies to flourish. We cannot compromise our fundamental values as we combat the threats to homeland security. Rather, we must continue to combine our openness and freedom with a firm commitment to security. Together, the United States and Taiwan have developed solutions to the security challenges we face. This conference and the ideas that will be generated here today and tomorrow are an important step in that process and I commend you all for your commitment and dedication to this task. Thank you and I wish this conference the greatest success.