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U.S. signing of NDAA bill positive for Taiwan: ex-U.S. official

2017/12/13 14:18:10

U.S. President Donald Trump/CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 13 (CNA) U.S. President Donald Trump's signing Tuesday of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) shows the support of the U.S. Congress to Taiwan and it is a "fairly positive" sign, ex-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Wednesday.

Priebus, who was invited to Taiwan to deliver a keynote speech at a luncheon for the ROC (Taiwan)-U.S.-Japan Trilateral Security Dialogue, an annual seminar organized by Taiwan, also noted, however, that a U.S. president "doesn't need Congress to tell him where he can put a ship, so that is obviously up to the president of the United States."

"But I think for the most part, it is fairly positive for the people of Taiwan," he said, when asked to comment on the NDAA.

The act includes clauses that would allow the U.S. to look at the possibility of re-establishing "regular ports of call by the U.S. Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable ports in Taiwan" and permits the U.S. Pacific Command to receive ports of call by Taiwanese vessels.

The Taiwan-related clauses did not sit well with China and prompted a statement from Li Kexin (李克新) at the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. that the minute a U.S. Navy ship calls at a Taiwan port, China will activate its Anti-Secession Law and unleash its People's Liberation Army.

Asked to comment on Li's threat, Priebus said those who make such comments should "exercise a little bit more restraint."

Instead of taking the opportunity to hit Taiwan, Priebus said, China should see Taiwan as a great example of freedom and democracy.

"I don't agree with the comment, and I don't think too many people do in the administration either," he noted.

Asked what role Taiwan can play in a "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy" proposed by Trump during an APEC leaders' summit last month, Priebus said Taiwan has already been playing a big role in the scheme.

"One of the roles Taiwan has been playing in the Indo-Pacific region is what happens when you let democracy take its course. Just that alone is part of the policy and part of the example of what Taiwan has done," he said.

Priebus served in the Trump administration from Jan. 20, 2017 until July 31, 2017 before being ousted. He also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2011 to 2017.

(By Joseph Yeh)