Mon, Apr 07, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Americans start to change focus

`Taipei Times' staff reporter in Washington Charles Snyder recently met with Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, and discussed commerce and trade issues between the US and Taiwan, and China's influence.

 / 

The defense companies right now are frustrated because of the lack of dialogue with either government. As a community, we feel that we do not have an active role in decisions that impact our businesses.

The fact of the matter is, it is still a business issue for these companies, even though it's defense and security.

That doesn't negate the fact that these are hard business issues impacting job security in the United States.

And, a job for Lockheed Martin is as important as a job for Oracle or a job for Microsoft.

TT: Have your members been effective in trying to lobby the Bush administration, or administrations in Washington generally, on arms sales to Taiwan. I'm thinking in terms of the April 2001 major arms sales package that President Bush agreed to. Did your members have a role? Did your association have an effective role in pushing some of that?

Hammond-Chambers: No. I would not say that we played an organized and concerted effort to lobby, whether it's this administration or the Clinton administration in a concerted way.

In connection with the 2001 package, it wasn't an organized effort with the administration to release all of those systems. Now, the companies themselves are actively working, but as an organization, we weren't in there saying, "You should release everything."

TT: Well, your former chairman was Frank Carlucci, who was a former defense secretary, and your current chairman is William Cohen, who was Clinton's defense secretary. Some people might be forgiven for looking at that saying, "Obviously, these people were picked because of their defense background." What would your reaction to that be?

Hammond-Chambers: It is a fair question. The fact of the matter is that Taiwan as an issue in US foreign policy not just China policy, but foreign policy broadly is one that is steeped in nuances and specific issues and concerns that over time, as we can from the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 and the switch in recognition, empowers but a few past policy makers to fit the profile that we are looking for in a chairman.

And the fact is that defense secretaries, because the defense and security component of that relationship is such an important one, often fit that profile and that small group of people that we can reach out to.

Now, you also have the added challenge of persuading one of those people from that very small group to actually take the chair of our organization, not because they don't see the value, but because people at that level are extraordinarily busy.

So, it just so happens that in this instance Frank Carlucci and Bill Cohen fit the profile and were prepared to take on this position.

TT: When is Cohen planning to visit Taiwan and what will the trip entail?

Hammond-Chambers: The May 2003 trip is going to be focused on technology, on US-Taiwan-China technology integration and business integration. Secretary Cohen has a strong interest in young business leaders and will be spending some time with some of Taiwan's youngest and most successful entrepreneurs.

This story has been viewed 6320 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top