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President-elect Lai's commitment to status quo welcomed: AIT chair

04/20/2024 05:56 PM
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President-elect Lai Ching-te receives American Institute in Taiwan Chairperson Laura Rosenberger on April 1 in Taiwan. CNA photo April 1, 2024
President-elect Lai Ching-te receives American Institute in Taiwan Chairperson Laura Rosenberger on April 1 in Taiwan. CNA photo April 1, 2024

Washington, April 19 (CNA) The United States has welcomed President-elect Lai Ching-te's (賴清德) commitment to maintaining the status quo, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairperson Laura Rosenberger said Friday in an online interview with a U.S. think tank.

Speaking with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which held the virtual event to mark the 45th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the AIT chairperson said she felt relations with the incoming administration were in good shape.

"I've had the opportunity twice in two trips since the elections to engage with President-elect Lai and members of his team, to make sure again that we are in a solid place to continue the work going forward," Rosenberger said, referring to visits made in January and April.

In her conversations with Lai, she said, "he's been really clear in terms of his policy priorities, including his commitment to maintaining the status quo, which we, of course, very much welcome."

Lai won the presidency on Jan. 13 with 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race, but his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost its absolute majority in the Legislative Yuan, in which the Kuomintang (KMT) now has the most seats in the 113-seat body with 52.

The DPP has 51, the Taiwan People's Party has eight, and there are two independents ideologically aligned with the KMT.

Asked about Taiwan's newly elected "split government," Rosenberger said the U.S. approach throughout Taiwan's election season focused on developing strong relationships with each of the candidates and their teams and "not taking sides."

Rosenberger noted that she had the opportunity during her trips to Taiwan to meet with the newly-elected Legislative Speaker Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and Deputy Speaker Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), both of the KMT.

"It was stated publicly by Han and Chiang that they have reached consensus for cross-party support for defense and foreign affairs priorities," she said.

Rosenberger said it was a "really important statement from them."

"Just as support for the U.S.-Taiwan partnership is bipartisan here in the United States, we think it's really important that that remain cross-partisan in Taiwan, and we'll continue to work to cultivate that," she said.

The TRA was signed into law on April 10, 1979 by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter after it was enacted by the U.S. Congress in March in response to the U.S. breaking off diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

The law was deemed as having taken effect on Jan. 1, 1979.

"The TRA to my mind has provided a foundation for really everything we are doing to broaden and deepen the relationship," Rosenberger said, praising it as "a very insightful and prescient piece of legislation."

American Institute in Taiwan Chairperson Laura Rosenberger meets with President-elect Lai Ching-te on April 1 in Taiwan. CNA photo April 1, 2024
American Institute in Taiwan Chairperson Laura Rosenberger meets with President-elect Lai Ching-te on April 1 in Taiwan. CNA photo April 1, 2024

She said the TRA was not only about commitments to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capacity, but also said "that the United States should maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion."

"I think that's an important commitment. And you see the United States continuing to do work, both ourselves and with allies and partners in the region, to reinforce deterrence in the Indo-Pacific to maintain that critical peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," Rosenberger said.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Alison Hsiao)

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