ELECTION 2024/Hou says he will ask the U.S. to pay closer attention to Taiwan peace
New York, Sept. 16 (CNA) The presidential candidate for Taiwan's main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) said on Saturday that the main purpose for his ongoing trip to the United States is to raise awareness about issues involving ensuring peace in the Taiwan Strait and to ask for Washington's assistance on economic and trade matters.
Speaking with reporters in New York after arriving on Thursday for the eight-day trip, New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) said the aim of his visit is to ask the U.S.' executive and legislative branches to pay closer attention to peace across the Taiwan Strait and to continue to help Taiwan in boosting its defense capabilities.
Upon arriving in New York, the KMT presidential candidate visited the New York Times, where he met with the newspaper's editor in chief. Hou also gave an interview to Bloomberg.
Asked by reporters what he discussed when meeting with the two U.S.-based international news media outlets, Hou said reporters in the U.S. focused more on cross-strait peace and security issue and what role a Taiwan future leader should play in maintaining cross-strait peace and security.
Hou said he told both the New York Times and Bloomberg that peace will only be achieved via strength, and exchanges will enhance understanding.
The two sides of the Taiwan Strait will significantly lower potential risk via dialogue, with the main goal to promote peace and security of Taiwan and the world, he added.
Another issue Hou said he will focus on is Taiwan's potential participation in the Washington-initiated Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) and the possibility of the two sides signing a free trade agreement, adding that Taiwan needs America's assistance on both of these matters.
The economic initiative was launched by U.S. President Joe Biden on May 23, 2022, with the aim of enhancing the US' economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific region.
It was launched with 14 participating founding member nations, not including Taiwan, with an invitation for other countries to join.
Taiwan's government has said the decision to exclude Taiwan from the IPEF was regrettable, as the country is an important economy that plays a crucial role in the global supply chain and qualifies for inclusion.
Hou also said his brief meeting with New York Mayor Eric Adams on Friday night was made possible under arrangement of a mutual friend.
He said he and Adams are both retired police officers so during their brief meeting they greeted each other and wished each other good luck on their separate goals.
The New Taipei mayor said the KMT and the U.S. have always maintained cordial relations and his ongoing visit to the U.S. is also to express gratitude toward American friends for paying attention to the Taiwan Strait issue and Taiwan's future development.
After his trip to New York, Hou will visit Washington D.C. from Monday to Tuesday (Sept. 18-19) to meet with AIT Chair Laura Rosenberger, scholars from the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation, as well as 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."
It is also considered by some to be a test of his ability to handle diplomatic affairs if he were elected president in the January 2024 presidential election.
It has been a longstanding practice for Taiwanese presidential candidates to visit the U.S. before elections.
Taiwan People's Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and sitting Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) nominee for the 2024 presidential election, both visited the U.S. earlier this year.
Later Saturday, Hou participated in an annual meeting organized by an overseas Taiwanese group in New Jersey during which he called for unity among overseas KMT supporters to support his presidential bid so that his party could regain power after eight years of DPP rule.
The 45th annual convention of Taiwanese Association of America featured more than 500 overseas Taiwanese, including U.S.-based famed forensic scientist Henry Lee (李昌鈺).
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