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Thomas Christensen Delivers Speech to U.S.-Taiwan Business Council

A Strong and Moderate Taiwan

Thomas J. Christensen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Speech to U.S.-Taiwan Business Council
Defense Industry Conference, Annapolis, Maryland
September 11, 2007

Vice Minister Ko Cheng-heng, Dr. Su Chi, Rupert, other distinguished guests, I am delighted to be able to speak today at this important event. Many thanks to all of you for being here – especially our friends from Taiwan, who have taken time from busy schedules and traveled so far. I would also like to thank the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, which has established this conference as the premier annual venue for discussing Taiwan’s security. As the State Department’s representative, I will touch on broad issues in Taiwan security in my remarks this morning, leaving detailed questions of defense strategy and arms procurement to the military experts. My remarks represent the agreed views of the United States Government. I invite you to consider my comments in that light.

This conference is timely. In the year ahead, we will again celebrate Taiwan’s democracy, and we will also closely follow how Taiwan’s leaders navigate the often difficult circumstances in relations across the Taiwan Strait. Their actions will be a major factor in determining whether the interests of their people are protected; whether Taiwan will continue to flourish in an environment of peace and security; or whether all that Taiwan has achieved might be put at risk by cross-Strait tensions or, worse still, conflict.

For reasons that I will elaborate in a moment, the United States has an abiding interest in a stable and peaceful relationship across the Taiwan Strait in which Taiwan thrives. Anything that makes Taiwan stronger and safer is good for the United States, and, for obvious reasons, is also good for the people of Taiwan. Anything that places such peace and stability at risk runs directly against the interests of the United States. For these reasons, we look to Taiwan to adopt strategies toward cross-Strait relations that combine strength – both military and economic – with moderation. When we see policies that diverge from these goals, we owe it to ourselves and to the Taiwan people to speak out.