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Taiwan must do its part to step up defenses: AIT chairman

2017/10/13 15:59:11

James Moriarty

Washington, Oct. 12 (CNA) American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James Moriarty called on Taiwan Thursday to do its part to invest more in self-defense, as U.S. commitment to Taiwan's security alone will not protect Taiwan in an increasingly complex regional environment.

While Moriarty reiterated U.S. commitment to providing defense services to Taiwan, he asked that Taiwan increase its defense spending, which he said falls short of what is needed to address the changing environment.

"While we commend Taiwan for the considerable strides it has made, it can and must do more as the security threat against it continues to evolve," he said in a forum on Taiwan-U.S. relations held by the Brookings Institution.

He compared Taiwan's military spending as a percentage of its GDP to that of other countries facing outside threats, such as Israel, South Korea and Ukraine, and found it lagging.

"Taiwan must do better," Moriarty said.

"We believe that a Taiwan that is secure, confident and free from both isolation and coercion is better able to engage Beijing constructively."

Moriarty championed not just U.S.-Taiwan security cooperation in his speech but also increased economic partnership.

"Taiwan faces both security and economic challenges, and thus, Taiwan's continued economic security and vitality are equally important to the United States," he said.

Just as U.S.-Taiwan political relations will continue to function under the guidelines of the Taiwan Relations Act, U.S.-Taiwan economic relations will continue to work under the framework of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), Moriarty noted.

On the subject of cross-Taiwan Strait relations, Moriarty said that the U.S. will continue to urge both sides of the strait to engage in constructive dialogue and "to demonstrate patience, flexibility, and creativity in finding ways to engage with each other in order to avoid miscalculation and resolve their differences."

He noted that there should be no unilateral attempt from either side to change the status quo but rather urged a peaceful resolution of differences that is acceptable to the people of both sides.

Moriarty said that stable cross-strait relations is of interest not just to China and Taiwan but also the U.S. and countries in the Asia-Pacific region,

Throughout his speech, the chairman commended Taiwan's will and ability to play a positive role in addressing global problems and asked that Taiwan take comfort in knowing that the discussion in Washington is not "whether to deepen our relationship with Taiwan" but "how best to."

The U.S. will therefore continue to support Taiwan's membership in international organizations in which statehood is not a requirement and its meaningful participation in organizations where statehood is required, he said.

(By Rita Cheng and Kuan-lin Liu)
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