Any unprovoked attack on Taiwan would result in a “resolute reaction” from Washington, US Representative Rob Wittman said during a visit to Taipei yesterday, adding that the US is working on expediting arms sales to the nation.
Wittman, a Republican who serves as vice chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services, told President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the Presidential Office that the US would do “everything possible” to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, and that it was committed to building and projecting the strength of the region.
“Strength is the best deterrence to anyone that may think there’s an opportunity to act badly in this region,” said Wittman, who arrived in Taiwan on Thursday.
“Any hostile, unprovoked attack on Taiwan will result in a resolute reaction from the United States,” he said, while acknowledging Taiwan’s efforts to enhance its self-defense capabilities, such as extending compulsory military service to one year.
The US has “an obligation” to ensure that it addresses the US$19 billion backlog of arms deliveries to Taiwan, which cross-party members of the House have been working on, he said.
Wittman said he believed that the “deep and long-term relationship” between the US and Taiwan would continue to grow stronger, as it is based on shared values of democracy, the rule of law, and technological and economic development.
The ties have earned bipartisan support in the US Congress, he said, calling on both sides to pursue closer economic cooperation through mutual investment.
Tsai thanked Wittman and other delegation members for their support and attention to Taiwan’s security through concrete actions such as promoting pro-Taiwan legislation in the US Congress every year.
They helped ensure that the National Defense Authorization Act continues to include policy initiatives that bolster Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities and deepen Taiwan-US security cooperation, Tsai said.
In the face of authoritarian expansionism, the unity and cooperation of democratic partners is even more important, she said.
Taiwan will continue to work with the US and other democratic allies to protect regional stability and prosperity, she added.
She also thanked the US Congress for passing the first agreement under the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, which could deepen economic and trade ties between Taiwan and the US.
The next step toward closer industrial cooperation would be to eliminate double taxation between the two nations, which Tsai hoped US lawmakers would support.
Wittman is visiting Taiwan with two other committee members: US representatives Jen Kiggans and Carlos Gimenez. It is the second visit by senior committee officials following committee Chairman Mike Rogers’ trip in June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.
US representatives Alex Mooney and Michael Cloud are also in Taiwan.
All five lawmakers are members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus and have displayed their firm support for the nation by proposing legislation and issuing statements, Presidential Office spokeswoman Olivia Lin (林聿禪) said.
Additional reporting by AFP
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