First, let me offer thanks to Kim Holmes and Walter Lohman and the Heritage Foundation staff for this opportunity to speak about an issue that the State Department takes very seriously.
My Assistant Secretary, Ambassador Kevin Moley, sincerely wishes to be here but is not in Washington today, and asked me to speak in his place.
Minister Chen’s comments have highlighted what we all know to be true, that the Indo-Pacific region is more important than ever, and that Taiwan has an important role to play in the peace, security, and prosperity of the region.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act. There have been a series of events commemorating the event, including here in Washington and in Taipei.
Representative Kao and Ambassador Moley joined a lineup of top Congressional leaders at an event at the Senate in May.
They reported how refreshing it was to see there are still some issues where there is robust bipartisan and bicameral consensus. It shows just how broad, and deep, the U.S. partnership with Taiwan is.
Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan visited Taipei in April as part of the 2019 Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue. He said “the U.S.-Taiwan partnership is a rare issue on which there is consensus from both sides of the aisle, and the Taiwan Relations Act was one of those transcendent moments when Congress did exactly what it was designed to do, and as a result, strong bipartisan support for Taiwan has endured for four decades since.”
I’m told that the new American Institute in Taiwan facility looks marvelous. At $255 million, the structure is a strong symbol of our enduring long-term commitment to the people of Taiwan.
Today, I am going to sketch out the broader strategic context of the region and discuss the U.S. perspective on how Taiwan fits into our Indo-Pacific strategy.
After that, I will talk about our joint efforts with Taiwan and like-minded partners to facilitate Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations.
The Indo-Pacific Strategy
Those of you who were here last year for Assistant Secretary of Defense Randall Schriver’s remarks will be familiar with the outlines of the President’s strategy for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
Broadly, the United States is committed to a safe, secure, prosperous, and free region that benefits all nations.
To that end, we have committed to expanding U.S. public and private investment in Indo-Pacific infrastructure, energy markets, and digital economy, as well as partnerships with like-minded partners such as Japan and Australia.
We have also launched our Transparency Initiative, which commits $400 million to programs that promote good governance, rule of law, civil society, independent media, elections and political processes, and human rights across the Indo-Pacific region.
This brings me to the key issue: the People’s Republic of China.
The most recent U.S. strategy document puts it best:
“Perhaps no country has benefited more from the free and open international system than China, which has witnessed the rise of hundreds of millions from poverty to growing prosperity and security.”
“Yet while the Chinese people aspire to free markets, justice, and the rule of law, the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, undermines the international system from within by exploiting its benefits while simultaneously eroding the values and principles of the rules-based order.” End quote.
China’s pressure campaign has stepped up in many areas, including increasing efforts to flip Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic partners, the largest increase in military activities around Taiwan in the last 20 years, and demands for U.S. companies refer to Taiwan as a “province of China,” which the White House rightly called “Orwellian nonsense.”
These bullying tactics will not win the hearts of the people on Taiwan, nor elsewhere, and instead contribute to escalating cross-Strait tensions.
The United States supports the status quo in cross-Strait relations, which includes maintaining Taiwan’s existing diplomatic ties and improving Taiwan’s international space, as important to maintain peace and stability. The benefits that stable cross-Strait ties have brought to both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the United States, and the region have been enormous.
As ever, we reject the threat or use of force to compel the people of Taiwan. Any resolution of cross-Strait differences must be peaceful and based on the will and consent of the people on both sides. Beijing should cease its pressure campaign and resume dialogue with the democratically elected authorities on Taiwan. We encourage authorities in Beijing and Taipei to engage in constructive dialogue that seeks a peaceful resolution of differences acceptable to the people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan, meanwhile, has a vibrant democracy, evidenced by the recently concluded DPP presidential primary and the upcoming KMT presidential primary campaign ahead of the joint presidential and legislative elections in January 2020.
Democracy is Taiwan’s best weapon for self-defense. China will interfere with key democratic elections in Taiwan through sophisticated cyber measures. The U.S. stands ready to help Taiwan preserve its election integrity.
The famous “marketplace of ideas” is in full swing, with the Taiwan people making their own choices about their future in an open, transparent process.
Taiwan has vibrant elections complete with large-scale rallies in support of all sides of top political issues.
So, as two democracies with strong ties, over the past four decades, the United States and Taiwan have built a comprehensive, durable, and mutually beneficial partnership, grounded in shared interests and values.
The strong U.S.-Taiwan partnership continues to grow, in the spirit of the Taiwan Relations Act and consistent with our one China policy.
Under the Act, the U.S. commitment to close commercial, cultural, and other relations with Taiwan is stronger than ever.
And that partnership will continue to exceed the expectations of the Act in ensuring the continued contributions of the people of Taiwan to the global community.
Now I turn to our piece of this relationship: international organizations.
The June 1 Indo-Pacific Strategy Report from the Defense Department, the one that made headlines in Taiwan last month, highlights the problem: international organizations continue to deny Taiwan the opportunity to participate meaningfully.
As you know, in recent years, China has put the squeeze on many of our partner organizations in the UN and elsewhere, pressuring them to exclude Taiwan from international arenas where Taiwan can and has made a positive contribution.
Our policy remains the same: the United States supports Taiwan’s membership in international organizations where statehood is not a requirement for membership, and its meaningful participation in international organizations where statehood is a requirement.
These issues matter. Infectious diseases. Civil aviation. International crime. These are challenges of great importance and Taiwan has earned a seat at the table as a responsible member of the international community.
Every country and partner must do its part to strengthen its capacity and combat transnational threats.
Let us turn to some specific examples – just a few focus areas from among some 60 different international organizations where Taiwan participates in one way or another.
In May, the World Health Organization, a UN specialized agency whose constitutional objective is “the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health” once again caved to pressure from China and did not invite Taiwan’s representatives to participate as an official Observer at the World Health Assembly.
Health and Human Services Secretary Azar said it, our allies agree, Taiwan’s diplomatic partners highlighted it during the assembly, and I will repeat it: Taiwan and its people deserve to be included.
Its 23 million people are part of a global effort to fight deadly pandemics and improve public health responses for everyone in the world. Taiwan has energy and expertise to contribute.
The world welcomed Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the WHA from 2009-2016. That is ironclad evidence that there is no legal barrier to Taiwan’s participation.
Then, because of the results of a free and fair democratic election in Taiwan, China decided to block Taiwan’s further participation, applying pressure on WHO leadership to exclude Taiwan despite the fact that China contributes less.
Nevertheless, thanks to U.S. mobilization efforts, like-minded countries joined us in a more united front than ever in support of Taiwan participating as an Observer. We will build on these efforts in future. Likeminded countries who together make substantial contributions to WHO must stand firm on demands that the WHO do the right thing.
One appalling example of how Chinese influence on excluding Taiwan has directly harmed global health occurred last year when the WHO declined a $1 million contribution from Taiwan to the global fight against Ebola at the insistence of China. This is in spite of the fact China itself refused to contribute to this effort.
Taiwan’s omission is not just an issue in the sphere of global public health: Taiwan is blocked from important proceedings and meetings affecting everything from civil aviation safety to law enforcement.
We forcefully advocate for Taiwan’s participation across the international system, and this includes doing everything we can to facilitate Taiwan’s participation at this year’s International Civil Aviation Organization Triennial Assembly, INTERPOL General Assembly, and anywhere else Taiwan can contribute to the international system.
Last fall, Assistant Secretary Moley visited Montreal, home of the aforementioned International Civil Aviation Organization, which sets consensus on international aviation standards, and raised this issue with senior officials. We will continue to advocate in order so to secure meaningful participation for Taiwan.
Similarly, the Departments of State and Justice work closely to identify ways Taiwan can meaningfully participate in INTERPOL, an intergovernmental organization that fights transnational crime.
Enabling Taiwan to interact directly with INTERPOL and share pertinent information about criminals and suspicious activity would help strengthen regional and international security.
The United States recognizes the risk to Taiwan’s security and the security of other states in Asia and beyond, caused by Taiwan’s lack of access to INTERPOL data.
One of the Assistant Secretary’s efforts, with the full support of Secretary Pompeo, is building broader coalitions to support Taiwan’s participation in international fora.
In the past few years, the United States worked with like-minded countries in Europe and Asia to jointly engage international organizations and advocate for Taiwan’s participation as an observer in key intergovernmental meetings and access to technical meetings.
As China squeezes more of Taiwan’s international space, even in organizations in which Taiwan has held membership for decades, the United States has also worked with like-minded partners to secure Taiwan’s place in organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and the Inter-American Development Bank.
We have also discussed UN access issues for Taiwan passport holders, as well as Taiwan’s NGOs and media, and we strongly support allowing Taiwan passport holders access to UN facilities.
We are glad to see that like-minded countries are paying more attention to the importance of Taiwan being able to participate in international organizations.
Excluding 23 million Taiwan people from these efforts runs counter to the very ethos of the international organizations we support. And besides the principle at stake here, there is the practical reality that China’s obstruction means that Taiwan does not have access to important data that is important for our collective safety and security, or could be used to prevent everything from the movement of terrorists and criminals to the spread of diseases and epidemics.
Taiwan has demonstrated that it is a responsible, transparent international actor. Here are some examples:
We cooperate with Taiwan through the American Institute in Taiwan on the Global Cooperation and Training Framework on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as good governance, women’s empowerment, fighting corruption, media literacy, digital economy, global health, and more.
Taiwan is a global “good citizen,” doing things like sharing its expertise in fighting pandemic diseases, helping to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa, and sending emergency supplies to Indonesia after an earthquake and tsunami hit the island of Sulawesi.
In support of the international pressure campaign focused on the DPRK, Taiwan was among the first to announce the cessation of all trade with North Korea. Taiwan has been a valued member of the global coalition to defeat ISIS, contributing over $30 million of assistance to support stabilization and demining efforts in Iraq and Syria.
To support those suffering oppression because of their faith, the United States and Taiwan convened the first regional conference in the Indo-Pacific region in March on religious freedom, more than 200 participants including faith leaders and civil society from more than 18 countries across the Indo-Pacific region.
In a further demonstration of its commitment, Taiwan announced its pledge to contribute $1 million to the International Religious Freedom Fund and announced its first Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom.
Taiwan shares our values; it has earned our respect. Its development and success is a model for the region. Taiwan is a force for good in the world. We continue to believe, as the Vice President said last year that, “Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.”
We will continue to show the world, together, what partners united by shared values can accomplish when they work to serve the interests of all people, respect human rights, uphold the rule of law, and support free markets.
Therefore, we will continue to press our partners in international organizations not to cave to pressure but to do the right thing and bring the 23 million people on Taiwan into the discussion, allowing them to contribute to important global efforts.
We look forward to working with many of the people in this room on exploring ways to make this happen.