Tue, Nov 01, 2005 - Page 3 News List

US official urges Taiwan to do more on FTA

During his visit to Taipei last week to attend a conference hosted by the Taiwan Thinktank, Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, sat down with `Taipei Times' staff reporter Shih Hsiu-chuan to share his views on the triangular economic and security relations between the US, Taiwan and China

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Hammond-Chambers: When America offers to sell arms to Taiwan, it incurs considerable anger from China. And yet we do it anyway. We do it because we believe it is in our interest. And we do it because we believe our interests include a commitment to assist Taiwan in providing for its own defense.

The Taiwan Relations Act also talks about economic security. The US has a well-developed policy to help Taiwan, supporting Taiwan in an important way, including economically. And as a consequence, the concern regarding China will not be an insurmountable barrier -- even if China objects, which I am sure they will. If America decided that it is in American interests, I believe that America would do it.

TT: Your organization has been enthusiastic about Taiwan's national defense. What do you think of the arms package the Bush Administration offered Taiwan in 2001?

Hammond-Chambers: I am not very optimistic. I think it's going to be very difficult in the next two to three years for Taiwan to pursue a strong defense policy that allows it to at least maintain a steady pace of defense reform and mobilization, because of the clear split between the views of the pan-blue and pan-green camps.

It is unfortunate that the pan-blues have taken their position. The issue is blocked in the procedure committee. Your country hasn't even been allowed to have a debate about the choices. I believe that at the very least Taiwanese politicians owe that to the people. Because of that lack of debate, I don't believe that Taiwanese people have been informed about the choices in front of them.

America is not arguing that Taiwan should compete with China. What we are asking Taiwan to do is to do the best it can to show an intention to provide for its own self-defense. Taiwan is our ally in the region, and it's more than likely that we will be there to help as long as Taiwan shows an intention of self-defense. I really hope there is a debate, [that Taiwanese will] discuss it, and then move on. It is important now for the decision to be made.

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