OT-1011E | (As Prepared for Delivery)
Mr. President, Premier Wu, Representative Imai of Japan, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. It is an honor for me to be here this morning to help inaugurate the 2010 International Conference on Homeland Security.
It is also a great pleasure to welcome Mariko Silver, Acting Assistant Secretary, at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of International Affairs, and Matt Mooney, Deputy Director for Asia Pacific at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of International Affairs.
Ms. Silver brings valuable knowledge and insight into the policymaking issues surrounding homeland security. I know we all look forward to hearing the contributions she and other policy specialists will make in later discussions at this conference.
Addressing Transnational Threats
Given our role as major trading economies in an economically interdependent world, the United States and Taiwan have a common interest in ensuring free trade and the exchange of goods, people and ideas while seeking to protect our citizens and safeguard our security. The attacks of September 11, 2001 woke many of us to terrorism’s transnational nature.
I might note it has taken a while. When I served in Beirut in 1979-1981, our Embassy was attacked twice by rocket propelled grenades, once by rockets, and there was an assassination attempt on our Ambassador whose armored car was riddled by bullets. It took us another 20 years, however, before the reality of terrorism really set in.
The World Trade Center attacks of 2001 and subsequent attacks across the world have made all open societies realize that terrorists seek to exploit our vulnerabilities.
Unfortunately, the threats we face know no boundaries. Our response to these threats must reflect this reality.
Developing the tools and mechanisms needed to protect the security of our borders, critical infrastructure, and trade remains vital to our economic prosperity and way of life.
As citizens of democracies, both the American and Taiwan people rely on the public servants who are responsible for implementing the policies that keep Taiwan and the U.S. safe. In discussion sessions later today, I know that Acting Assistant Secretary Silver and Dr. James Chang of the Executive Yuan’s Office of Homeland Security, among others, will discuss their efforts to keep us safe. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate them and their offices for the excellent work they have done and will continue to do.
U.S.-Taiwan Homeland Security Cooperation
This work significantly includes bilateral cooperation. As two of the world’s leading economies, the U.S. and Taiwan have a particular interest in ensuring the security of the global trading system.
Our challenge is to maintain the vibrancy of our economic and commercial ties while ensuring that their openness cannot be used against us. Our cooperation in this area is very robust. The U.S. and Taiwan enjoy close cooperation in stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. For example, for the past three years, the U.S. and Taiwan have been working together to enhance Taiwan’s export controls. In that time, Taiwan has made significant progress in its nonproliferation and counter-proliferation efforts.
The United States will continue to work with Taiwan to ensure that its technology controls and export control system are sufficiently robust to implement effectively its nonproliferation policies.
Since 2005, U.S. and Taiwan officials have also worked together to implement the Container Security Initiative (CSI) in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung and Keelung ports. This important program ensures the safety of goods flowing from and through the U.S. and Taiwan, and facilitates the flow of Taiwan’s own shipments to the U.S.
CSI offers a security regime to ensure that all containers posing a potential risk for terrorism are identified and inspected at foreign ports before they are placed on vessels destined for the United States, but also detects other forms of illicit activity.
For example, U.S. and Taiwan Customs officers have been jointly responsible for identifying shipments of contraband items, including precursor chemicals for narcotics, drugs, counterfeit currency, and products that violate intellectual property rights.
Another example of cooperation is the Megaports Initiative. In 2003, the U.S. established this program 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 here in Taiwan at Kaohsiung.
The radiation detection equipment supplied by Megaports scans as much container traffic at a port as possible, regardless of destination, only minimally affects port operations, and increases the security of seaports and seaborne trade. This cooperation is a potent symbol of the commitment of Taiwan and the United States to international maritime security.
The ultimate goal of our efforts is to create an environment that fosters the exchanges and interactions that are the foundation of the close ties between the United States and Taiwan. I believe we are succeeding in these efforts, because even as we diligently work to protect security, the U.S. and Taiwan’s economic and commercial relationship has expanded and deepened. The flow of businesspeople, academics, students, tourists and others continues to grow, as does the strength and vitality of the U.S – Taiwan relationship.
Obviously, the ability to ensure the security of borders is a critical element of national security, and the security and integrity of a nation’s travel documents are key to fighting international terrorist and criminal activity. We therefore will continue to work with Taiwan in its efforts to strengthen its passport application procedures and to combat all forms of passport fraud.
New Threats to Our Security
It is clear that we have had important successes in coordinating strategies and working together for our common security. Nonetheless, protecting our homelands in the 21st century goes beyond ensuring border security and defending physical infrastructures, as important as those traditional elements are.
The recent cyber attack against U.S. internet giant Google in China reminds us all of the need to be vigilant against threats to our information networks. The exchange of ideas and information is vital not only for our democratic way of life but for our economic vibrancy as well. We must do our utmost to ensure the security and integrity of these information systems against any adversaries who might seek to exploit vulnerabilities.
The United States and Taiwan have long shared common values of democracy and free trade. These values have stimulated our economies, and the flow of ideas and people between us have, in turn, allowed our societies to continue to flourish.
At the same time, our democracy and prosperity have also made us attractive targets for terrorists. 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, we have developed common solutions to the security challenges we face. This conference and the ideas that will be generated here today and tomorrow are another important step in that process. I commend you all for your commitment and dedication, and I wish this conference the greatest success.