ELECTION 2024/U.S. is Taiwan's 'sincerest friend,' Hou tells Washington gathering
Washington, Sept. 17 (CNA) New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate, said at a dinner party in Washington on Sunday that the United States is Taiwan's "sincerest ally and friend" and he is looking forward to deepening bilateral ties if he is elected as president next year.
Like the U.S., Taiwan values freedom and democracy, and on the strength of those shared values, Taiwan has been a strong ally of the U.S. for decades, Hou said at the gathering of some 400 Taiwanese and ethnic Chinese expatriates.
"Also, for years, the U.S. has been Taiwan's sincerest ally and friend," he said at the dinner party, which was hosted by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) of Washington, D.C., one of the biggest and most influential ethnic Chinese expat groups in the capital city.
"I look forward to deepening our bilateral friendship in the years to come," Hou told the dinner guests, who included Laura Rosenberger, chairwoman of the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy in the absence of official bilateral diplomatic ties.
The New Taipei mayor, who is on an eight-day visit to the U.S., said that as the KMT's 2024 presidential candidate, his main goal is to bring peace to Taiwan, which has been at risk of war with China since the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) came to power in 2016.
"I am here in the United States to brief you all on how I, as a future leader, will guide Taiwan out of that crisis," Hou said.
He reiterated his stance that cross-Taiwan Strait peace can only be achieved through strength and exchanges that enhance understanding.
Turning to Rosenberger, Hou thanked her for attending the dinner party after their hour-long video meeting earlier and for her dedicated work in Taiwan.
In turn, Rosenberger told the gathering that Washington and Taipei had made big strides in their bilateral relations in recent months.
Those achievements included the signing in June of their first trade agreement under the U.S.-Taiwan 21st century trade initiative, which "will streamline regulations and facilitate trade to pave the way for increased economic opportunities in both markets," she said.
The two sides have also built closer cooperation in the areas of 5G, electric vehicles, sustainable energy, and internet security, Rosenberger said.
On the issue of regional security, she said Taiwan is a "crucial partner" in the efforts to maintain cross-strait peace and stability.
"The United States has long been committed to enabling Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," the diplomat said. "Let me assure you that our commitment to that remains rock solid."
The dinner was part of Hou's agenda to promote his presidential platform during his eight-day visit to the U.S., which started last Thursday and includes meetings with American lawmakers and with scholars from the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation.
Earlier Sunday, he told reporters that during his scheduled closed-door speech at the Brookings Institution on Monday he will announce the details of his "3D defense policy," which according to his aides, means deterrence, dialogue and de-escalating.
Hou said the policy focuses on boosting the nation's defense capabilities, and at the same time promoting dialogue with all parties involved, so as to significantly lower the risk of a cross-strait war.
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