President Tsai Ing-wen met on the afternoon of June 5 with a delegation led by US Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, and expressed hope that the members of the delegation will continue to be staunch supporters of Taiwan, and that Taiwan-US relations will continue to deepen in the future and move to the next level.
Following is a translation of the president's remarks in their entirety:
First, on behalf of the people and government of Taiwan, I want to sincerely welcome all of you to Taiwan. This is the first time that Senator McCain has led a delegation to Taiwan as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and the first time in 24 years that a delegation led by the Armed Services Committee chair has visited Taiwan. At the same time, this is also the largest delegation of US senators to visit Taiwan in a decade. This visit is thus extremely significant for Taiwan, and I fully sense your staunch commitment to our country and Taiwan-US relations.
In his over three decades in the US Congress, Senator McCain has actively helped Taiwan numerous times, including his support for US arms sales to Taiwan and the strengthening of Taiwan-US security cooperation. For many years, the distinguished senators joining him on this trip have not only paid close attention to the Taiwan Strait situation and supported the US security commitment to Taiwan based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances, but have also urged the US executive branch to help Taiwan expand its international participation. Here, in addition to expressing my sincere gratitude, I would also ask all of you to please continue to give Taiwan your staunch support in the US Congress in the future. Taiwan and the US have always had a close relationship, and the new government will continue to strengthen cooperation with the US in the fields of national defense and security, trade and investment, and international participation.
On national defense and security, we want to express our sincere gratitude to the US for continuing the sales of defensive arms to us in accordance with the TRA, and for standing by your commitment to strengthen bilateral security cooperation. Those gestures have been extremely helpful in stabilizing the situation in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region. I would also like to take this opportunity to ask all of you to urge the US executive branch to continue to sell us the arms required to defend Taiwan, and to strengthen bilateral military and security exchanges and cooperation.
In terms of strengthening economic and trade ties, Taiwan and the US already have a close economic and trade relationship, with bilateral trade exceeding US$66 billion. Based on our existing cooperation, we hope to continue strengthening those ties. We also have a strong desire and hope to become a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) signatory. Taiwan's participation in the TPP will not only help boost our international competitiveness, but is also in line with the US' "rebalance to Asia and the Pacific" policy. So please do continue to give us your full support in the US Congress.
On the topic of international participation, I want to thank the US Congress for expressing support for Taiwan's participation in the international community by passing laws and other means. I also want to express our sincere gratitude to Senator Gardner [Chairman, Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy], who is here with us today, for his proposed legislation supporting observer status for Taiwan in the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL). In the future, Taiwan will continue its efforts to seek participation in important international organizations including the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and INTERPOL.
I hope that after returning to the US, you will continue to speak on Taiwan's behalf in the Congress and support various initiatives and legislation that advance bilateral relations, thereby taking the relationship between our two countries to the next level.
In his remarks, Senator McCain made a point to congratulate President Tsai on her election as president, and praised Taiwan as the only democratic country in the ethnic Chinese world. He also reaffirmed that the US Congress will continue to abide by the commitment to Taiwan's security based on the TRA, and to support Taiwan's participation in the second round of TPP negotiations. Commenting on cross-Strait relations, Senator McCain said he is confident that President Tsai will maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and called on Beijing to refrain from taking any action that undermines stability in the Taiwan Strait.
The US delegation also included Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee Senator John Barrasso; Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy Senator Cory Gardner; and Senators Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst, and Dan Sullivan.