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AIT lauds 2019 as 'Pivotal Year' for U.S.-Taiwan relations

2019/03/07 19:54:28

John J. Norris Jr., Managing Director of the Washington Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)

Washington, March 6 (CNA) 2019 is a "pivotal year" for U.S.-Taiwan relations, John J. Norris Jr., Managing Director of the Washington Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said Wednesday.

Norris made the comment in a press event held by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Washington D.C. to detail activities planned to mark 40 years of the Taiwan Relations Act.

Recently, Norris received Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) in Washington, and the U.S. State Department just announced Sam Brownback, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, will visit Taiwan around March 11.

Several U.S. lawmakers and special guests were present at the event, including Lester Wolff, who drafted the Act four decades ago.

Wolff, a centenarian and former congressman, recalled how he challenged the Taiwan Enabling Act, the forerunner to the Taiwan Relations Act which he described as toothless.

"Originally, this act was called the Taiwan Enabling Act, and we in Congress seriously objected to that whole procedure because there were no teeth in the act to protect an old ally that we had been engaged with for so many years," he said.

"One of the points we brought into the act was something called ambiguity, and that ambiguity provided us with the opportunity of upgrading it without having to put in additional legislation to meet the challenges that we face today," Wolff further explained.

Taiwan's U.S. Representative Stanley Kao (高碩泰) commended the "indispensable and irreplaceable" partnership between Taiwan and the U.S., and thanked many people especially friends in the U.S. Congress for their hard work to help Taiwan transform into a free, democratic and prosperous society.

Republican Congressmen Michael McCaul, Ted Yoho, and U.S. Congressional Taiwan Caucus co-chair Mario Diaz-Balart also attended the press conference, expressing support for Taiwan and its values of freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Meanwhile, some U.S. lawmakers recently proposed that U.S. should send Vice President Mike Pence or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Taiwan, or invite Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to deliver a speech to the U.S. Congress.

When asked about these issues, Norris said the AIT is not a decision maker, and will follow the instructions of the Executive Branch on those matters.

(By Rita Cheng and Emerson Lim)