Post Date: October 12, 2018
AIT Official Text #: OT-1831
October 10, 2018
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Representative Kao, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I am deeply honored to be here this evening representing the American Institute in Taiwan. It is always a pleasure to return to Twin Oaks, this magnificent estate that means so much to Taiwan and the United States. This year is particularly significant since Twin Oaks is marking its 130th anniversary. From its construction in 1888 as the home of the National Geographic’s founder, down to the present as the venue for this annual celebration and TECRO events throughout the year to profile Taiwan and its rich culture and traditions, Twin Oaks has a treasured history – and a special place in the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.
Tonight is also an opportunity to take stock of that flourishing relationship. Through the years, the United States and Taiwan have built a comprehensive, durable, and mutually beneficial partnership, grounded in our shared interests and our shared values of support for democracy and human rights.
As Chairman, I was pleased to join in June with President Tsai Ing-wen, along with leaders from throughout Taiwan society in the dedication ceremony of AIT’s new, state-of-the-art office complex in Taipei. The AIT facility serves as an important and enduring symbol of the close ties that link the people of the United States and those on Taiwan.
The dedication of the new AIT Taipei complex is just one of many developments since we gathered here last October that reflect the depth and growth of a multidimensional relationship. I will cite here just a few more examples:
- In the economic and trade field, Taiwan participated in the SelectUSA Investment Summit with the largest delegation of any of our partners; Foxconn broke ground for its new factory in Wisconsin; and Taiwan customers signed new contracts to purchase American LNG as well as soybeans and other commodities.
- Through an AIT-TECRO arrangement, the two sides agreed to allow their passport holders to apply for each other’s trusted traveler program, making Taiwan our third Global Entry partner in East Asia.
- The Trump administration announced in September its plan to proceed with a sale of $330 million in spare parts to support Taiwan’s F-16 and other military aircraft.
Key indicators further attest to the strength of ties. Taiwan – with a population of fewer than 24 million people – is our eleventh-largest goods trading partner, the eighth-largest consumer of U.S. agricultural exports, and the seventh-largest source of foreign students to the United States.
Taiwan continues to be a reliable partner for the United States on pressing global security challenges. Taiwan has played a laudable role in the international pressure campaign against North Korea and is a valued member of the global coalition to defeat ISIS. This summer, TECRO announced a $1 million donation to support demining efforts in Syria.
Recognizing how much Taiwan has to offer, the United States will continue to support ways for Taiwan to participate in the international community inside and outside of international organizations. One way that the United States strives to help Taiwan expand its international space outside the traditional UN system is through the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF). Through 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.
The United States views Taiwan’s security as central to the security of the Indo-Pacific region and, as the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) makes clear, has an abiding interest in cross-Strait peace and stability. Underpinning U.S. policy is a belief that a Taiwan that is secure, confident, and free from coercion, can engage Beijing more 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 and people-to-people ties, and maintain close security cooperation.
The United States will continue to implement faithfully the TRA’s commitment to help Taiwan maintain its self-defense capability. The September arms sales notification that I mentioned earlier is evidence of that commitment. But U.S. 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 joint cooperation among its military services.
Taiwan’s continued economic security and vitality are equally important to the United States, which is why we endeavor to deepen our economic ties. In September, trade negotiators met to address trade and investment issues and market access barriers. They made some progress, and we look forward to further actions in these areas along with joint efforts to reduce the bilateral trade imbalance. If we can successfully use mechanisms like the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement to resolve trade irritants between our two economies, it will help foster an even stronger and closer trade relationship.
My interactions with President Tsai, including during her recent transits of Los Angeles and Houston, 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 escalating pressure from the PRC across the board. Since last year, the PRC has convinced three Latin American nations to sever diplomatic ties with Taipei. Beijing’s efforts to unilaterally alter the status quo threaten the stability of the Taiwan Strait and undermine the framework in the region that has enabled peace, stability, and development for decades. As Vice President Pence said last week, while the United States will “continue to respect the U.S. One China Policy, as reflected in the three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, America will always believe Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.”
The United States will continue to urge both sides of the Taiwan Strait to engage in constructive dialogue and demonstrate patience, flexibility, and creativity in finding ways to engage with each other, in order to avoid miscalculation. The United States will also 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.
Next year, Taiwan and the United States will celebrate a milestone in the relationship – the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act. In that anniversary year, I look forward to further advances across the many dimensions of this partnership. The coming year will, I am sure, show to all why the United States considers Taiwan to be a vital and reliable partner in Asia and a force for good in the world.