The relationship between Taiwan and the US is “rock solid,” American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk said yesterday, as she reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to help Taipei defend itself.
“We believe in deepening our engagement and connections with the people of Taiwan consistent with US interests and our ‘one China’ policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three [Joint] Communiques and the six assurances,” Oudkirk said during her first news conference at AIT headquarters in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) after assuming the post in July.
“The value of our partnership and our support for Taiwan is rock solid. We are committed to deepening our ties with Taiwan — a leading democracy and a critical economic and security partner,” she said.
Oudkirk said that the relationship’s key elements are maintaining security cooperation, expanding bilateral economic partnerships, preserving Taiwan’s international space, bolstering people-to-people ties, and seeking cooperation in new areas such as cybersecurity and supply chains.
“We continue to have a shared and abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The US considers this central to the security and stability of the broader Indo-Pacific region and to the United States, and we are deeply concerned by ongoing PRC [People’s Republic of China] efforts to undermine that stability,” she said.
“We are committed to helping Taiwan maintain its ability to defend itself and also to work together on shared challenges, like maritime law enforcement, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the Indo-Pacific region,” she added.
In an interview with CNN broadcast on Thursday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) confirmed the presence of US military personnel in Taiwan.
Oudkirk reaffirmed the US’ commitment to help Taiwan defend itself, but declined to comment further on the president’s statement.
Asked about a referendum in December, Oudkirk defended the importation of US pork products to Taiwan.
One of four referendums scheduled for Dec. 18, initiated by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲), is to ask voters if a ban on pork products containing residues of the feed additive ractopamine should be reinstated.
The government in January lifted a ban on pork imports containing ractopamine residue, but introduced maximum allowable levels, as well as a ban on US beef from cattle older than 30 months.
The moves are widely seen as intended to improve trade ties with Washington.
“I would like to say at the outset that the United States has a rigorous and reliable food safety inspection system [that] dates back 100 years. I eat American pork and feed it to my children. It’s safe. It’s tasty,” Oudkirk said. “I would encourage Taiwan consumers to do the same.”
Oudkirk on Oct. 12 met with KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) at the party’s headquarters, the KMT has said.
Oudkirk said that she could not disclose the contents of their private discussions, but they talked about many issues of mutual interest.
The AIT in December last year called on Taiwanese politicians not to spread unfounded information about US food imports, after Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) of the KMT told Oudkirk’s predecessor, Brent Christensen, that many people objected to lifting the ban on the pork imports.
Asked to comment on a request by the US Department of Commerce that Taiwanese chipmakers provide information to Washington, Oudkirk said that the department encouraged companies around the world, not just in Taiwan, to provide information for its policymaking process.
The department wants to learn from the companies about a field in which they have more knowledge, she said.
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