Taiwan is committed to maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told visiting US lawmakers yesterday.
Tsai made the pledge as she met with a bipartisan congressional delegation led by US Senator Ed Markey at the Presidential Office.
The unannounced two-day trip came after Beijing held live-fire military exercises in waters around Taiwan in the wake of a visit to Taiwan by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Aug. 3 to Aug. 4, the first visit by a sitting US House speaker since 1997.
Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office
Members of the delegation include US representatives John Garamendi, Alan Lowenthal, Don Beyer and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen.
Tsai thanked Markey for voting for the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 and helping Taiwan secure COVID-19 vaccines last year.
China has been conducting prolonged military exercises in waters surrounding Taiwan, greatly affecting regional peace and stability, Tsai said.
Photo courtesy of the Presidential Office
“We are engaging in close cooperation with allies to closely monitor the situation. At the same time, we are doing everything we can to let the world know that Taiwan is determined to safeguard our stability and the status quo of the Taiwan Strait,” she said.
Aside from asking for the delegation’s support for a bilateral trade agreement, Tsai also said that Taiwan hopes to sign an agreement with the US to prevent double taxation to facilitate investment between the two countries.
Markey told Tsai that he has been a supporter of Taiwan, and is one of the few members of congress still in office who voted for the Taiwan Relations Act.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia and the Pacific, Markey said that he introduced bipartisan bills that support stability measures to lower the risk of conflict in the Taiwan Strait, invest in multilateral engagement with Taiwan and open the door to greater self-defense cooperation.
Aside from being an important beacon of democracy, human rights and free speech in the region, Taiwan has been a leader in the fight against COVID-19, and has become a global technology and manufacturing powerhouse, particularly in semiconductors, he said.
“At this moment of uncertainty, we must do everything we can to maintain peace and stability for Taiwan,” Markey said. “We have a moral obligation to do everything we can to prevent unnecessary conflicts, and Taiwan has demonstrated incredible restraint and discretion in very challenging times.”
The delegation later arrived at the Legislative Yuan for a one-hour meeting with lawmakers on the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee to exchange views on military tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), who took part in the meeting, told reporters that lawmakers and the delegation exchanged views on Taiwan-US relations, regional security and China’s military activity, but no specific details of US arms sales to Taiwan were discussed.
“The timing of the delegation’s visit is significant, as the purpose of China’s military exercises is to intimidate members of the US government so they do not visit Taiwan,” Lo said.
“The visit showed that China has no right to dictate and interfere with the plans of other countries’ politicians to visit Taiwan. In the meantime, their visit conveys an important message that the US is standing with the people of Taiwan,” Lo said.
A closed-door meeting allowed for a more frank and honest discussion over issues among participants, he added.
“Our lawmakers focused on a potential shift in US foreign policy on Taiwan from strategic ambiguity to strategic clarity, as well as the US’ security pledges to Taiwan,” Lo said. “Our hope is that the US will move to a position of strategic clarity.”
Increased military cooperation between Taiwan and the US is necessary, as it is the only way to handle potential crises, Lo said, adding that US strategies in the Indo-Pacific region would not be complete without Taiwan participating in the Rim of the Pacific Exercises.
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