Ma Ying-jeou lauds strong Taiwan-US relations

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou praised the robust character of Taiwan-U.S. relations Jan. 8, expressing confidence in taking bilateral exchanges to new heights across a spectrum of areas.

“With improving cross-strait ties, Taiwan-U.S. relations also continue advancing on security cooperation and many other aspects,” Ma said. “This proves that the ROC government’s low-profile and surprise-free approach to bilateral exchanges has delivered concrete results in rebuilding mutual trust.”

Ma made the remarks at the Presidential Office in Taipei City while receiving a visiting U.S. congressional delegation led by Sen. James M. Inhofe, co-chairman of Senate Taiwan Caucus.

The group, comprising Sens. John Boozman and Steve Pearce, as well as Reps. Vern Buchanan and Erik Paulsen, is in Taiwan as part of an Asia and Africa tour to discuss foreign affairs, security and trade issues.

Inhofe said the delegation’s visit to Taiwan, which is his first overseas trip after being elected as the Republican Party’s ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, represents the importance the U.S. attaches to relations with Taiwan.

The senator also revealed that Washington will keep its promise on delivering weapons to Taiwan, including 30 Apache attack helicopters this year, 60 Black Hawk helicopters in 2014, and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles in 2015.

“This proves that the U.S. is rock solid on its commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act,” Inhofe said.

Legislated in 1979 following Washington’s decision to sever formal diplomatic ties with Taipei, the TRA serves as the foundation of the U.S. security commitment to Taiwan.

Ma said the healthy state of Taipei-Washington ties is evidenced by Taiwan’s recent admission to the Visa Waiver Program and U.S. support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization and World Health Organization.

This also extends to strong two-way economic and trade exchanges, Ma added, stating that he hopes to see more near-term progress on resuming long-stalled talks under the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

On security cooperation, the president said U.S. approval of record US$18 billion arm sales to Taiwan since he took office in May 2008 underscores the importance of this partnership.

“The frequency and scale of weapons sales over the past four years surpasses any period since 1979 and contributes greatly to strengthening Taiwan’s defensive capabilities,” Ma said. “The ROC government is grateful for receiving strong congressional support on the issue. Last year, 47 senators and 181 representatives called for U.S. President Barack Obama to sell Taiwan F-16 C/D fighter jets.”

Concerning regional security, Ma reaffirmed the government’s rock-solid stance on sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Archipelago, and reiterated the value of its East China Sea peace initiative.

Proposed Aug. 5, 2012, by Ma, the five-point initiative urges all parties to refrain from antagonistic actions; not abandon dialogue; observe international law; resolve disputes through peaceful means; and form a mechanism for exploring and developing resources on a cooperative basis.

The Diaoyutais are an uninhabited archipelago located roughly 170 kilometers northeast of Taiwan proper. The island group is historically attached to the ROC and includes Diaoyutai Island and the islets of Huangwei and Chiwei.

Rachel Chan
Taiwan Today