Relations at the Beginning of a New Year
C. Bush, Chairman and Managing Director, American Institute
January 28, 2002
It is a great honor for me to speak to you all today. I am
very grateful to the Institute of International Relations
of National Chengchi University for providing a venue for
me to do so. This university has trained generations of talented
people who have worked in a variety of fields. It has played
a significant role in Taiwan's political development. All
China specialists know that IIR has been the Taiwan partner
of the longest-running annual bilateral conference on mainland
China affairs, and I have been privileged to participate on
occasion. So I appreciate the opportunity to be with you today,
and I look forward to an exchange of views.
I would like to chat with you today about Taiwan's relationship
with the United States, which, from my point of view is good
and getting better. Indeed, I think one can argue that our
ties are stronger now than at any time in the last fifty years.
People on Taiwan can be quite confident that the US-Taiwan
relationship and US policy in other respects serves their
interests and aspirations well.
In elaborating on this basic point, I wish to start with Taiwan's
response to the tragedy of September 11th in all its aspects.
I have come to Taiwan on this trip and appear at Cheng-ta
today to express on this occasion the gratitude of the government
and people of the United States for your outstanding contributions.
It is in times of crisis that we learn who our true friends
are. And the United States knew from the beginning of this
particular crisis where Taiwan stood.
I imagine that you know of some of the ways in which Taiwan
has responded to the 9/11 tragedy and supported the campaign
against terrorism. But there are some that you don't know.
The cumulative effect of this effort is quite impressive.
First of all, your government has made a number of expressions
of sympathy and support. For example, I was in Hawaii on September
11th, because I was accompanying Premier Chang on his transit
through the United States. GIO Director General Su Tzen-ping
awakened me at around 4:30 AM Hawaii time and I immediately
turned on the television. Within a matter of a couple of hours,
Premier Chang sent to me a five-point statement of sympathy
and support. President Chen and other officials made other
statements of solidarity, which have an important symbolic
value. Most important in those early hours was the decision
to heighten protection of Americans in Taiwan. This made a
particularly deep impression on the entire American community
here. Also touching to us was the decision to lower Taiwan's
flag to half mast on September 15th and 16th. Not many countries
made this gesture, and I understand that my old friend Foreign
Minister Tien came under some criticism. But it is a powerful
expression of the deep friendship between the United States
On a more substantive level, your government joined us in
the global fight against terrorism. You sought to an impressive
degree to share information with the American side, to heighten
security at your ports of entry, and to monitor financial
flows. This is particularly important because our adversaries
look to exploit places that might not seem to be either a
likely target of terrorism or a sanctuary for terrorists and
their money. Taiwan is such a place, and your continuing vigilance
helps to tighten the net.
Next, your government has pledged to act according to international
conventions against terrorism and the various resolutions
of the UN Security Council. These commitments are made in
spite of the fact that Taiwan is not a party to these conventions
for reasons that we all understand. This demonstrates that
in substantive terms which is what counts most Taiwan is a
good global citizen.
Next, the government, your NGOs, some with branches overseas,
and individual residents and overseas compatriots have been
making substantial donations to the relief effort since day
one. This has gone in two directions. On the one hand, organizations
like Tzu-chi and the Red Cross responded quickly to the attacks
in New York and Washington, D.C. and provided help to the
victims and their families. In this regard, I would like to
acknowledge the generosity of Chinese-Americans and Taiwanese-Americans,
who made contributions of around US$8.5 million. Donors in
Taiwan provided another US$1.5 million for the victims of
the attacks. I would also make a side comment that charitable
and community service organizations like Tzu-chi have been
important indications of the growth and maturation of civil
society in Taiwan, one of the hallmarks of a stable democracy.
addition to looking west to the United States, Taiwan also
looked east to Afghanistan. The Taliban and al-Qaeda, through
their cruel and dictatorial rule in Afghanistan brought about
intense suffering to a society that has suffered enough. The
military campaign, which the Taliban brought upon itself,
exacerbated the situation and created the danger of a humanitarian
emergency. This necessitated a multifaceted relief effort
to keep to a minimum the number of innocent people put at
risk by this conflict. The United States and other countries
responded quickly to this emergency, and here too, Taiwan's
government, NGOs and people have been very generous in providing
money, food, and survival necessities, in the amount of US$7.25
million. Included in these generous donations is a special
way that Taiwan has contributed to the effort to meet the
humanitarian emergency in Afghanistan.
one of the significant dimensions of this emergency was food
not just a lack of food inside Afghanistan but the lack of
means to transport international food aid from outside the
country to Afghans who need it. Last fall, there was a global
appeal for a very large number of trucks to ship food into
note here that people who do disaster relief have learned
over the years that, faced with a food emergency like that
in Afghanistan, it is far better to ship the food to the people
where they live than to have the people go to where the food
is, such as a neighboring country. Typically, once needy people
start to move in search of food, they are already fairly desperate.
The trip is dangerous in and of itself, particularly when
the weather is bad. Once they arrive at a refugee camp, there
is increased danger of disease, along with a number of social
problems. And there is the simple fact that even the poorest
people know best how to cope in their home area. If they survive
the winter at home and receive some seed, they have a better
chance of restoring some level of subsistence. All the more
reason therefore that a large number of trucks were needed
to help ship food and other items into Afghanistan.
did Taiwan come in? I am pleased that Taiwan has donated nearly
1,400 tons of relief aid, including transportation vehicles,
medicine, tents and food in response to this global appeal.
Your government responded quickly and energetically. On behalf
of the United States government and the American people, I
wish to express deep appreciation for this outstanding contribution
to the struggle for a new Afghanistan.
one totals up the dollar value of the various donations made
by Taiwan and people in the United States connected with Taiwan,
the total comes to over US$17 million so far. In addition,
there is assistance and solidarity that cannot be quantified.
The truck project alone consumed countless person-hours that
are not reflected in the dollar figures I have cited. Again,
on behalf of the US government and American people I wish
to extend to the government and people of this island our
heartfelt gratitude for your contributions to this effort.
Terrorism presents a strategic challenge to our global community.
The United States has resolved to meet that strategic challenge.
Taiwan has been an outstanding partner in carrying out this
most of you are probably aware that the United States is also
grateful for the cooperation we have received from the People's
Republic of China. And some of you may be worried that Beijing
may try to play upon American gratitude in order to extract
political concessions concerning Taiwan. Let me assure you
as categorically as I can: it will not happen. I, of course,
cannot rule out the possibility that there will be an attempt
to exercise that kind of leverage. But I can categorically
rule out the possibility that any such attempt will be successful.
In the counter-terrorism effort, the United States has not
sought assistance from others, from the PRC, from Taiwan,
or from anyone else, with an expectation or assumption that
we will have to reward those who help us in the counter-terrorism
campaign. Rather, we believe that our friends should provide
support to this cause because, as members of the international
community, we share a common vision of a peaceful and prosperous
world free from intolerance and wanton acts of terror.
Let me be clear. The United States wants to have a positive
and constructive relationship with the People's Republic of
China. The tragedy of September 11th and the necessity of
striking back against terrorism is only the most recent and
vivid evidence that the United States and the PRC have common
or parallel interests. We also share those interests regarding
regional hot spots such as the Korean peninsula and on other
transnational issues, such as drug trafficking. Our economic
relationship with the PRC benefits companies and consumers
in both China and America, and China's entry into the World
Trade Organization will only enhance those benefits. On the
other hand, there are issues on which we disagree: proliferation,
human rights, religious freedom, Taiwan, and missile defense.
Consequently, the Bush Administration is pursuing engagement
with China that seeks to maximize the areas of cooperation,
address areas of difference frankly but respectfully through
dialogue, and encourage China's adherence to international
norms as it becomes more a part of the international community.
We hope that such an approach will move China in the right
direction, but we cannot be sure. The United States is not
naive. We will follow China's actions carefully. We will remain
strong. And we will not sacrifice Taiwan's interests in order
to have a good relationship with the PRC. President Bush demonstrated
that when he visited Shanghai in October last year.
At the same time, the Bush Administration is pursuing a policy
towards Taiwan that fits not only our interests but yours
as well. That policy mixes useful points of continuity and
significant changes in substance, emphasis, and tone. It has
the following important elements.
First and foremost, there is the fundamental emphasis on peace
and an unconditional insistence that the Taiwan Strait issue
should be resolved peacefully. This is a long-standing principle
of US policy, going back more than forty years. It was enshrined
in the Taiwan Relations Act and reaffirmed by every Administration
since then, and certainly by the Bush Administration.
In light of the priority we place on the peaceful resolution
of differences, changes in PRC behavior over the past few
years have called into question Beijing's stated commitment
to a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan Strait issue. These
changes are Beijing's acquisition of more advanced military
capabilities; its deployment of those capabilities in Taiwan's
vicinity; and a negative shift in its statements about the
circumstances under which it would use force.
Consequently, in order to guard against miscalculation by
the PRC leadership and PRC military, it has become necessary
to re-emphasize the concern that the United States feels about
Taiwan's security and remind Beijing that the United States
clearly has the capacity to come to the assistance of Taiwan
should it be threatened by the mainland and will help Taiwan
In addition, and pursuant to the Taiwan Relations Act, the
United States will continue to provide arms to Taiwan based
on its needs in light of the current situation. For example,
the Administration in April made some decisions on the weapons
systems that Taiwan would need to ensure a sufficient ability
to defend itself. We reject the idea that our arms sales make
a peaceful resolution more difficult. Indeed, the Administration
believes that our arms sales give Taiwan a greater sense of
security and the confidence to enter into a dialogue with
Beijing, something that President Chen has said publicly.
A second element of the Bush Administration's policy is that
the United States will continue to follow a one-China policy,
as defined by the three US-PRC communiques and the Taiwan
Relations Act. We will conduct our relations with Taiwan on
an unofficial basis, but within that parameter we have a rich
substantive relationship, seeking cooperation on a wide array
of issues on which we have common and parallel interests.
Examples of this are our work together on the response to
9/11, Taiwan's WTO accession, and the mutual legal assistance
agreement that the Legislative Yuan recently approved. Our
communication is excellent, but we also look for ways to improve
The third element is the important and inescapable fact that
Taiwan is a democracy. The December 1st elections demonstrated
once again that strength and vitality of Taiwan's free, open,
and competitive political system. Given America's values,
that is significant for its own sake. It also means that the
United States will treat Taiwan and its leaders with the respect
and dignity that is worthy of a fellow democracy. This was
most evident in the transits through the United States by
President Chen in May 2001, Premier Chang in September, and
Vice President Lu this month. The Administration was pleased
to accord your high officials this respectful and dignified
treatment. It was my honor to assist in making these transits
Democracy is important in another way. The Bush Administration
believes that any agreement regarding the Taiwan Strait issue,
in addition to being reached peacefully, has to be acceptable
to the people on Taiwan. This should be self-evident. Indeed,
it is inevitable that Taiwan's people, through their democratic
institutions, will have a say in any cross-Strait arrangements.
This is a point that I shall return to in a minute.
On cross-Strait relations, and this is my fourth point, the
Bush Administration believes that how the Taiwan Strait issue
is resolved is up to the two parties concerned. That is, our
one-China policy in no way dictates for Taipei or Beijing
how substantively cross-Strait differences should be resolved.
Similarly, the United States favors and encourages dialogue,
but has no intention of serving as a mediator in this dispute,
or of pressuring Taiwan to negotiate.
We face a mixed situation between the two sides of the Strait.
Tensions are down from eighteen months ago. Economic interaction
has intensified, which creates the possibility that shared
interests will reduce the possibility of conflict. Joint accession
to the WTO will only intensify that interaction. And positive
economic interchange can have a good impact on other dimensions
On the other hand, there has been no progress toward addressing
key cross-Strait political issues. Dialogue has been suspended
for over two years. The absence of dialogue could still lead
to some kind of conflict as the result of accident or miscalculation.
A resumed dialogue could reduce misunderstanding and misperception,
resolve practical problems, and create positive momentum towards
an enduring peace. This is the lesson of 1992-93 and 1998.
Now the reasons that dialogue is still suspended are complex,
and I don't want to bore you with a discussion of them. Speaking
for myself only, it does not seem constructive for one side
to set pre-conditions for a resumption of dialogue that the
other side even suspects would be tantamount to conceding
a fundamental issue before discussion begins. For Side A,
in effect, to ask Side B to concede a major point would only
raise Side B's doubts about Side A's good intentions. Also,
it does not seem helpful (or logical) for one side to say
that anything can be discussed once certain conditions are
met but rule out in advance discussion of approaches other
than its preferred approach.
Fifth, the United States believes that Taiwan can contribute
to international organizations and should benefit from international
organizations. Obviously, this is a sensitive issue, since
the PRC already occupies China's seat in most organizations
and opposes Taiwan's participation wherever possible. And
because these are multilateral institutions and often operate
by consensus, there are limits to what any one country, even
the United States, can do. But we do support Taiwan's participation
in the work of international organizations like the World
Health Organization. In no way is this position inconsistent
with our one China policy. We believe the international community
loses if Taiwan is excluded.
Moreover, the Administration strongly supports Taiwan's membership
in organizations like the World Trade Organization, and we
worked hard to help bring about Taiwan's accession. This was
a victory for the United States, but it was also a victory
and challenge for Taiwan. WTO membership will open an important
new stage in its economy's integration with the global economy.
And given Taiwan's understandable desire to play a greater
role in the international community, WTO accession is also
an important foreign policy achievement. The WTO is the world's
most important economic organization, which will shape the
global economy of the 21st century. Taiwan will be there,
a full member, offering its creative ideas along with other
members. In addition, I know that Taiwan hopes that its accession
to the WTO along with the PRC's accession will foster greater
economic cooperation between the two economies and also can
create a venue and a bridge for improving cross-Strait relations.
I am pleased that the United States played a critical role
in facilitating Taiwan's entry into the WTO. We played this
role because of our deep and abiding friendship for Taiwan,
but, more importantly, because we believed it was in our national
interest that Taiwan be a full member of the Organization
and that it undertake the market-opening measures that WTO
membership entails. We also believe that it was in Taiwan's
interest to subject itself to the market discipline that open
The year 2001 was a difficult year for all of us, for reasons
that it is painful to recall. But I am confident that 2002
will be a good year. The world will certainly make significant
progress in the fight against terrorism, because of the strength
and resolve of many good global citizens like Taiwan. Taiwan's
economy will likely pick up as the changes recommended by
the EDAC (Economic Development Advisory Conference) are implemented,
as financial reforms occur, as new political arrangements
are consolidated, and as growth of the American economy accelerates.
On balance, expanded economic integration between the two
sides of the Strait will have a positive impact on Taiwan
and enhance the interests that the island and the mainland
share in prosperity and peace. My optimism is strengthened
by what happened at the EDAC's setting aside partisan
difference for the sake of the common good. Most of all I
remain confident about Taiwan because the US-Taiwan relationship
is sound. It is based on shared values, common interests,
and good communication. The United States can rely on Taiwan
when we must face strategic challenges like 9/11 but will
not sacrifice Taiwan's interests to get the help of others.
US policy creates an environment in which Taiwan people can
address with confidence the internal and external challenges
before them, and be ready to seize the opportunity to forge
an enduring peace should that opportunity arise. I have read
news reports that some in Taiwan are worried that Taiwan is
getting too close to the United States. I don't agree with
that opinion although I understand why people might make that
judgment. But I also believe that Taiwan could do a lot worse
in its choice of partners. The state of US-Taiwan relations
is good, and it will continue to get better.