Sun, Apr 30, 2017 - Page 3 News List

AIT chairman met with lawmakers in private, source says

SCUTTLEBUTT:The AIT chairman reportedly traveled to Taiwan after a briefing from high-ranking US government officials, an unnamed source said

By Peng Wan-hsin, Chiu Yen-ling and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James Moriarty on Thursday met with Legislative Yuan President Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) and Wang Ding-yu (王定宇), a source said.

The meeting, which was described as “cordial,” took place at AIT Deputy Director Robert Forden’s residence and participants discussed Taiwan’s defense, according to an unnamed source who claimed knowledge of the meeting.

Moriarty allegedly told Su and the legislators that Taiwan must show its will to defend itself.

Moriarty, who formally served as a diplomat in Taiwan, was said to have invited Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers Jason Hsu (許毓仁) and Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), but they were unable to attend the meeting, the source said.

Later on the same day, Moriarty met New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) and Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維).

The source said the Taiwan-US relationship and US arms sales to Taiwan were discussed in some depth, but Moriarty did not name specific military equipment that the US might sell to Taiwan.

The AIT chairman told the legislators that he traveled to Taiwan after receiving a brief from high-ranking members of the US government, the source said.

Moriarty reportedly said that he was tasked to relay the message that the Taiwan-US relationship has not changed in any way after the summit between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

He said that Taiwan should be aware that it is confronting a country that is aggressive and gaining strength, and that Taiwan must show the will to defend itself, the source said.

Moriarty told lawmakers that Taiwan needs to augment its defensive capabilities, the source said.

The source described Moriarty as expressing deep concern over China’s detention of Taiwanese non-governmental organization worker Lee Ming-che (李明哲).

Moriarty said the incident should be considered a human rights issue and not be thought of as an issue related to Taiwanese independence or unification with China, the source said.

He told lawmakers that China’s arbitrary arrest of Lee for his involvement in civil rights issues has caused concerns in the US government, the source said.

In response to a request for comment, Su confirmed he did dine with Moriarty, but refused to divulge any details of their conversation.

When asked whether Lee Ming-che’s detention in China was brought up in the meeting, Su said: “We made small talk, that is all.”

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