AIT Official Text #: OT-1826
Post Date: September 20, 2018
Remarks by AIT Chairman James Moriarty
At the Global Taiwan Institute Annual Symposium
September 12, 2018
Russell, thank you for the kind introduction. It is a tremendous pleasure to be here today to participate in GTI’s second annual symposium. In its short history, GTI has compiled an impressive record of achievement in conducting its core mission of enhancing the relationship between Taiwan and the United States through policy research and programs. GTI’s events, articles, and newsletters have deepened policy-makers’ understanding of Taiwan and enriched the discourse on U.S.-Taiwan relations, making GTI a valuable link between the academic and policy communities in Taiwan and the United States.
As this audience knows well, in 2019, we will celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act. Over those years, the United States and Taiwan have built a comprehensive, durable, and mutually beneficial partnership, grounded in our shared interests. Common values like support for democracy and human rights have brought us even closer and propelled the partnership to a new level. Taiwan’s transformation from an island ruled by martial law to a beacon of democracy is one of the major developments of the late 20th and early 21st centuries – a great accomplishment for the people on Taiwan that inspires not just Americans, but many around the world. All of us here treasure the powerful example that Taiwan, through its political and economic achievements, offers to the Indo-Pacific region and the world.
Today, I would like to provide an update on the current state of this unique, “unofficial” relationship in the economic, security, and people-to-people realms. One of the areas I will highlight is the U.S. government’s steadfast support for Taiwan’s efforts to participate in and contribute to the international community. I’ll close with a brief look at cross-Strait relations.
Taiwan’s continued economic security and vitality are a key focus for the United States, which is why we endeavor to deepen our economic ties. Those ties are extensive, as we have grown to become each other’s eleventh- and second-largest goods trading partners, respectively. Taiwan is not only an important buyer of U.S. goods and services, but also an important investor in the United States.
The stock of bilateral foreign direct investment between the United States and Taiwan exceeds $25 billion. Taiwan is a top-twenty importer of U.S. services and a top purchaser of U.S. agricultural exports and intellectual property. Positive developments in the trade and investment relationship over the past few months include Taiwan’s participation in the SelectUSA Investment Summit with the largest delegation of any of our partners, the ground-breaking ceremony for Foxconn’s factory in Wisconsin, and new contracts to purchase American LNG.
The U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship is strong but could be even stronger. Further action to address the bilateral trade imbalance – in sectors like commercial aircraft, energy, high-tech, and agriculture – would be welcome.
AIT and its counterpart, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States, work to address trade issues through the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement – or TIFA. If Taiwan is to reinvigorate its economic growth that will be done, in part, by pursuing through the TIFA mechanism the economic liberalization to which Taiwan has committed. If we can successfully use mechanisms like TIFA to resolve trade irritants between our two economies, we will foster an even stronger and closer trade relationship.
We would welcome fresh thinking about how we can make progress toward our mutual goals.
The United States and Taiwan have enjoyed decades of close economic cooperation on technology, including in electronics and semiconductors. We are now working to bring the U.S.-Taiwan economic relationship into the digital age through increased digital economy and cybersecurity cooperation.
Defense and security cooperation are another pillar of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. The United States remains fully committed to implementing the TRA provisions, including providing Taiwan with arms of a defensive character. To that end, the United States announced in June 2017 plans to sell $1.42 billion in military equipment to Taiwan. Consistent with the TRA, 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. This policy contributes to stability across the Taiwan Strait by providing Taipei with the confidence needed to pursue constructive interactions with Beijing.
As a power with global responsibilities and interests, the United States has a natural interest in peace throughout the Indo-Pacific region. Stability in the Taiwan Strait is essential to that goal. It is this enduring interest in peace and security that undergirds the U.S. policy, as articulated in the TRA, not only to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character but also to maintain our “capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or social or economic system of the people on Taiwan.”
Security relations with Taiwan are about much more than arms sales. Taiwan’s key defense and military leaders understand the need to overhaul Taiwan’s security concept by embracing modern, resilient, and cost-effective approaches, as well as innovative ways to employ existing capabilities. The United States supports this effort. Through AIT and TECRO, the United States is working with Taiwan to ensure the successful transformation of its defense capabilities, including specific initiatives like the overhaul of its reserve forces.
The U.S commitment to implementing the TRA is firm, but that commitment alone will not secure Taiwan against the backdrop of an increasingly complex and adverse cross-Strait environment. Taiwan must do its part to invest in capabilities that deter aggression and help Taiwan mount an effective defense should deterrence fail.
While we commend Taiwan for the considerable strides it has made, it can and must do more to provide for its own security, through substantive actions such as ensuring an adequate level of defense spending.
Turning to the people-to-people component of the relationship, I am pleased to report that the past year saw milestones and progress in other aspects of U.S.-Taiwan ties. The Fulbright Program in 2017 celebrated 60 years of educational exchanges between the United States and Taiwan. Taiwan remained the seventh-largest source of international students in the United States in 2017, sending over 21,500 students to the United States, an increase of 1.8% from the year before. 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 – a significant development that facilitates travel between the United States and Taiwan.
The United States and Taiwan also work closely together to meet the common challenge of natural disasters. When I visited Houston recently to welcome President Tsai during her transit, I was struck by how deeply the people of that area appreciated Taiwan’s generous support for Hurricane Harvey relief. Let me add here a quick note of sympathy and concern for those on southern Taiwan affected by the recent heavy rains and flooding.
As Chairman, I was pleased to participate in June in the dedication of AIT’s new, state-of-the-art office complex in Taipei. This magnificent facility serves as an important symbol of U.S. commitment to Taiwan, of the close ties that link the people of the United States and those on Taiwan, and of the comprehensive and durable partnership.
Recognizing how much Taiwan has to offer the international community, 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. Taiwan should be able to contribute its expertise and experience to help tackle a range of major regional and global issues.
Public health is one prominent example of a sector where it is in everyone’s interest for Taiwan to play a significant role in addressing global challenges. That is why we will continue to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA). Health and Human Services Secretary Azar reaffirmed this fundamental position when we facilitated his meeting with his Taiwan counterpart just last month.
It was therefore deeply troubling to see the decision in 2017 and again in 2018 to deny Taiwan an invitation to participate in the WHA as an observer. China also prevents Taiwan from participating in technical meetings on civil aviation safety hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
This and other attempts by China to exclude Taiwan from participating in international fora prevents the international community from benefiting from Taiwan’s expertise, harms cross-Strait relations, and runs counter to Beijing’s own professed goal of winning the support of the people on Taiwan.
Along with efforts in international organizations, the United States looks for other ways for Taiwan to earn the dignity and respect that its contributions to global challenges merit. The Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), launched by AIT and TECRO in 2015, combines U.S. and Taiwan resources and capabilities to help partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region address pressing global challenges.
More than 200 policymakers and experts from dozens of countries have participated in 11 programs on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, public health, energy, women’s empowerment, law enforcement, and the digital economy.
We have held two GCTF workshops in 2018 already. The first was a workshop on laboratory diagnosis of enteroviruses and the second was a law enforcement workshop with a focus on counter-narcotics. The upcoming GCTF workshop in October will focus on promoting media literacy.
Taiwan deserves praise for its timely action on a number of key global security issues, standing in solidarity with the U.S. position and setting a valuable example for the international community. With respect to our top foreign policy priority, for example, Taiwan cut off trade with North Korea and has taken other actions in support of the international pressure campaign.
A valued member of the global coalition to defeat ISIS, Taiwan has contributed or pledged money and supplies to help with de-mining efforts and to assist those who were forced to flee their homes in Iraq and Syria. TECRO’s $1 million contribution in July for demining in Syria was a notable example of the deep friendship and commitment the United States and Taiwan share in working with partners around the world to address issues of global concern.
There has thus been both continuity in implementing the U.S. one-China policy and impressive growth in ties between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan.
In contrast, developments in cross-Strait relations over the past year tell a very different story.
Observers in the United States both outside and inside government, including a broad spectrum of members of Congress, are deeply troubled that China has escalated its pressure against Taiwan. Recent Congressional actions on Taiwan – like the unanimous passage of the Taiwan Travel Act – reflect those concerns.
As the Department of Defense has noted, Beijing continues to pursue long-term comprehensive military modernization. Over the past year, increased PLA activity in the air and seas around Taiwan has increased tensions.
The United States remains concerned by China’s lack of transparency about its growing military capabilities and associated strategic intentions, and its continuing unwillingness to renounce the use of force against Taiwan.
We oppose unilateral actions by any party aimed at altering the status quo, including any resort to force or other forms of coercion.
Over the past year, PRC pressure tactics included commencing operations on the northbound heading of the M503 air route through the Taiwan Strait without genuine consultation with Taiwan authorities.
The PRC sought to coerce corporations from the United States and other countries to adopt its nomenclature regarding Taiwan – a bit of “Orwellian nonsense,” as the White House said. Most troubling were the PRC actions to end the “diplomatic truce” of recent years that existed between Taipei and Beijing by enticing several countries – Sao Tome, Panama, Dominican Republic, and Burkina Faso, and El Salvador – to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
Let me underscore that Beijing’s efforts to unilaterally alter the status quo are harmful and do not contribute to regional stability. Rather, they undermine the framework that has enabled peace, stability, and development for decades.
As the Taiwan Relations Act states, it is the policy of the United States “to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.”
Given that deep and abiding interest in cross-Strait stability, the United States strongly supports dialogue between the two sides. Direct, authoritative channels of communication are essential to managing issues effectively and avoiding miscalculation.
We encourage both sides of the Strait to demonstrate patience, flexibility, and creativity in resolving differences. It is incumbent upon China to restore productive dialogue and to avoid further escalatory or destabilizing moves.
The United States appreciates President Tsai’s pragmatic approach to cross-Strait relations. That said, let me underscore that United States does not direct its cross-Strait policy solely at one side of the Strait or the other. There should be no unilateral attempts to change the status quo, and that applies to both sides. We have urged consistently that Taiwan’s ultimate status be resolved peacefully, to the satisfaction of the people on both sides of the Strait.
When we see a unilateral action that threatens the status quo – whether it is a proposed referendum on UN membership during a previous Taiwan administration, or China blocking Taiwan’s participation in international organizations devoted to global health and civil aviation safety – we speak out.
To reduce the risk of miscalculation and unintended escalation, the United States will continue to urge both sides to engage in constructive dialogue and to oppose destabilizing actions like those undertaken by the PRC in recent months.
Let me conclude by saying that the many positive developments in the U.S.-Taiwan partnership over the past year are indicative of the strength of those ties. As the Administration honors our one China policy, the United States remains firmly committed to supporting Taiwan. Indeed, that commitment has never been stronger.
The United States endeavors to improve our economic partnership with Taiwan, 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. Taiwan is not just a vital and reliable partner in the Indo-Pacific region; it is also a force for good in the world. That is why Taiwan merits our continued strong support.