The enhancement of military-to-military relations between Washington and Beijing “will not and does not come at the expense of our close partnership with Taiwan,” a senior US government official said on Monday.
“We have a very important relationship with Taiwan,” said Todd Chapman, the US’ principal deputy assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs.
Chapman made the remarks while delivering the keynote address at the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, which started on Sunday and ended yesterday.
While the speech was closed to the press, the Taipei Times was informed of his remarks by several sources.
Chapman could be a key player in any future arms sales to Taiwan and is considered the most significant US Department of State official to attend the conference in more than 10 years.
He said that he lived and worked in Taiwan for two years starting in 1991 when he was assigned to Taipei by the US government. Chapman said it was a “tremendous” experience and that he still had “strong personal ties” to the nation. His second son was born in Taipei.
Washington’s aim in strengthening its partnerships in Asia — including with Taiwan — is to establish a stable security environment, and foster an open social and economic environment that respects human rights, he said.
Chapman said the goal was to enhance security, expand prosperity and advance democratic values and human dignity.
He said the US was boosting its military-to-military relationship with China and working to deepen substantive dialogue and to cooperate “more and more” on significant issues.
However, enhanced military ties with China do not come at the expense of the US’ close partnership with Taiwan, he said, adding that “as evidenced by this conference,” US-Taiwan relations “remain extremely strong.”
Chapman said that Taiwan’s role in the US’ “pivot” to Asia was to preserve peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. He said Washington has an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and supported improving cross-strait relations “at a pace acceptable to the people on both sides.”
Taiwan serves as an excellent example of democracy to the region, with its high standard of living and civil society, excellent economy with world-class industries “and a competitive focus that is unmatched,” he said.
Chapman said that, in line with the US’ Taiwan Relations Act and the “one China” policy, Washington sold Taipei weapons for its defense, and this has contributed to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Strait.
He said that given regional developments, it is more important than ever for Taiwan to continue its defense-building efforts and provision of resources for a professional military force, as well as to use innovation and “every defensive advantage that Taiwan can muster” to deter potential attacks and attempts at coercion.
“We stand by those efforts and look forward to working with you [Taiwan] side by side,” he added.
Chapman said that the US’ commitment to Taiwan is intact and that within Washington, he had heard “nothing but praise” about the relationship.
On the sidelines of the conference, other sources said that US arms companies are showing “great interest” in Taiwan’s push to buy or build a fleet of diesel-electric submarines and might pressure the White House to cooperate.
“They [the firms] appeared anxious to help and to press the US government to allow submarine technology exports to Taiwan,” one participant said.
Democratic Progressive Party Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), who also delivered a speech at the summit, said that the general feedback he received from US participants had been “forthcoming and positive.”
Wu added that the images attendees had painted for him about security cooperation between Taiwan and the US were “very reassuring.”
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