ELECTION 2024/KMT's Hou: I will not take U.S. support for granted
New York, Sept. 15 (CNA) Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) presidential nominee, who is on an eight-day trip in the United States, said Friday that he will not take Washington's support of Taiwan for granted.
Speaking with reporters in New York, Hou said when he visited two American think tanks -- the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) -- he emphasized he would not take U.S. support of Taiwan for granted and that Taipei will continue to boost its national defense capabilities to deter Beijing's aggression.
Hou, who arrived in New York on Thursday (EDT), said Taiwan needed to increase its military strength not only to ensure cross-strait stability and Taiwan's security but also to mitigate concerns held by the rest of the world regarding the situation in the Taiwan Strait.
Hou said that Taiwan should maintain a dialogue with China to lower the risk of conflict and increase mutual understanding, but added that Taipei did not hold unrealistic expectations of Beijing.
In a statement released by Hou's campaign office after he attended a forum held by the NCAFP, he said that Taiwan was one of the most important Indo-Pacific countries and that it would do its bit to maintain peace in the region.
"Taiwan will not be a trouble-maker but instead will play a role in facilitating peace and reducing risks in the region," Hou said, citing that his goal was to "maintain cross-strait stability, ensure Taiwan's security and allow the world to rest assured."
The NCAFP forum was also attended by former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, former Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton, who is currently the project director of the Forum on Asia-Pacific Security at the NCAFP, and former Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Raymond Burghardt, as well as other Asia-Pacific affairs specialists.
Hou's campaign office said that when the KMT presidential nominee visited the CFR, he also emphasized both sides of the Taiwan Strait should maintain dialogue and increase their interactions to lower the risk of military conflict breaking out, and pave the way toward prosperity and stability in the region, and the world.
The CFR has ranked the risk of cross-strait conflict breaking out as "severe" for three years in a row.
Hou said the NCAFP and CFR are two U.S. think tanks that have placed significant emphasis on cross-strait issues.
Hou's campaign office also denied claims reported in the Financial Times on Friday that the KMT planned to pressure U.S. President Joe Biden into clarifying the role Washington would play in defending Taiwan.
Hou's campaign spokesman Huang Tzu-che (黃子哲) said Hou had no plans to push for clarity from the Biden Administration on Taiwan, adding Hou had merely responded "in jest" to reporter Kathrin Hille's questions during an "informal" conversation at a night market in Taipei.
Hille rebutted Huang's interpretation of events, describing the contents of the spokesman's statement as differing from what happened in the actual interview and conversations she had with Hou.
During his stay in New York, Hou also met with a group of overseas Taiwanese in the city and told them he was determined to protect the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan's official name) and pass on Chinese culture to future generations.
Speaking with supporters in New York, Hou said the upcoming presidential election will decide whether Taiwan will go to war or enjoy peace, adding that "as long as we keep the ROC, we will be able to keep the peace, and our future generations will be able to stand firm," implying that the stance of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party is provocative.
After his trip to New York, Hou will visit Washington D.C. from Sept. 18-19 to meet with AIT Chair Laura Rosenberger as well as scholars from the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation, and U.S. lawmakers.
The trip to the U.S. has been described by Hou's campaign office as a "journey of dialogue and deepening friendship."
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