The sale of Kidd-class destroyers to Taiwan marks a perfect example of the US commitment to helping the country maintain sufficient self-defense capability as set forth in the Taiwan Relations Act, a Pentagon official said on Friday.
Marine General John Toolan, principal director of the Asian-Pacific Affairs Office of the US Secretary of Defense, made the remarks during the departure ceremony for two Kidd-class destroyers sold to Taipei. Two other Kidd-class destroyers have already been delivered.
He said it was no coincidence that Taiwan has enjoyed peace and stability for the past 50 years.
"The strength of Taiwan's military has kept the threat at bay, which has allowed the democratic transformation and economic development to take place," he said.
He said the foundation of the US' lasting relationship with Taiwan was much deeper than the provision of defense articles and services as it was based upon shared values and common principles.
"We are both peace-loving peoples, nurturing our respective democracies, committed to the rule of law, and dedicated to our shared commitment to human rights. We also share in an understanding that our values and principles are best secured through strength," he said.
Toolan said the US government's decision to sell the warships to Taiwan was an investment in the continuation of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Toolan reiterated that the US opposes unilateral changes by either side to the cross-strait status quo and the use of force or coercion by Beijing to compel a resolution to the cross-strait dispute and does not support Taiwan independence.
He urged Beijing to open a dialogue with Taiwan's elected leaders and to demonstrate more transparency in describing the purpose of its military buildup.
He called on Taipei to work harder to ensure continued stability in the Strait, pointing out that Taiwan's defense modernization efforts have been hampered by domestic politics and that the country is losing its traditional technological edge over China.
"Leaders in power and in the opposition shoulder a collective burden of providing for the security of Taiwan's 23 million people," he said, adding that the US encourages Taiwan to address in a balanced way both immediate needs and future capabilities.
"In doing so, millions more across East Asia will be safer from the horrors of war, because Taiwan will be preparing responsibly to preserve the peace," he said.