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VP Hsiao thanks U.S. as AIT celebrates Independence Day in Taipei

07/02/2024 09:49 PM
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Vice President Hsiao Bi-khim (left) and Sandra Oudkirk, the director of the American Institute in Taiwan, make a toast in Taipei Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the American Institute in Taiwan July 2, 2024
Vice President Hsiao Bi-khim (left) and Sandra Oudkirk, the director of the American Institute in Taiwan, make a toast in Taipei Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the American Institute in Taiwan July 2, 2024

Taipei, July 2 (CNA) Vice President Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) on Tuesday expressed gratitude to the United States for its support of Taiwan's self-defense capabilities and calls for cross-strait peace during a reception organized by the U.S. de facto embassy in Taiwan to mark July 4 Independence Day.

In her English-language address during the event organized by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to celebrate the 248th anniversary of Independence Day, Hsiao sent congratulations to America for founding a nation built on principles of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

She said following decades of democratization, including the latest presidential and legislative elections this January, democracy and freedom have become "essential elements of Taiwanese identity and the cornerstone of Taiwan-U.S. relations."

As Taiwan's former top envoy to Washington from 2020 to 2023, Hsiao said she has had "a front-row seat in observing and working to deepen, broaden and strengthen the Taiwan-U.S. partnership."

Hsiao left the U.S. post and returned to Taiwan last year to run for vice president along with presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德) in the Jan. 13 presidential election. The pair were successful.

In her Tuesday speech, Hsiao also referenced a number of the achievements made by Taipei and Washington in recent years, including the signing of the first agreement under the Taiwan-U.S. Initiative on 21st-Century Trade in June 2023.

The deal has brought Taiwanese and American businesses and people closer together, Hsiao said. She added that Taiwan's government hopes both sides can move forward and resolve issues such as double taxation.

On the international front, Taiwan is grateful to the U.S. for enabling it to share its expertise and experiences in dealing with complex global challenges on the world stage, Hsiao said.

"This does demonstrate that a very robust Taiwan-U.S. relationship is also good for the world. And we certainly intend to continue to be that force for good in the world as a solid partner of the United States."

Taipei also appreciates American support for Taiwan's defense capacities in the face of the growing military threat from China, she said.

Given AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk's three-year tenure is nearing its end, the vice president thanked the envoy for her dedication to enhancing Taiwan-U.S. relations.

Oudkirk noted in her Chinese-English bilingual address that Tuesday was the last American Independence Day reception she would host.

"As I come to the end of an eventful three-year assignment, there is much to be thankful for and the future ahead is bright [for U.S.-Taiwan relations]," she said.

She thanked Hsiao for her commitment to ensuring the peace and prosperity of the people of Taiwan and said the U.S. appreciates Hsiao's "steady leadership in the face of an increasingly complex geopolitical environment."

"I am confident that the friendship between Taiwan and the United States will continue to blossom under President Lai Ching-te's leadership and the tenure of my successor," the envoy said.

She said that the AIT remains committed to working with Taiwan in advancing the shared vision of a free, open, resilient, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

"We thank Taiwan for serving as a partner to the United States and promoting democratic values around the world."

Oudkirk, whose three-year term ends in a week, became the first woman to hold the AIT Taipei director role when she assumed office in July 2021.

The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties. It is headquartered in Virginia and has a main office in Taipei and a branch office in Kaohsiung.

Its Taipei director serves as the top U.S. envoy to Taiwan, while its chairperson serves more of a ceremonial role.

Raymond Greene, the deputy chief of mission at the United States Embassy in Japan, has been named as her successor, but no date has been given for when he will take up his post in Taiwan.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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