On the morning of March 16, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation led by Representative Ken Calvert, chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee of the United States House of Representatives. In remarks, President Tsai reiterated that the people of Taiwan are determined to safeguard their sovereignty and defend their homeland. She said that we are willing and able to bolster cooperation with the United States and other like-minded partners to advance regional peace and stability and global democratic resilience. President Tsai also stated that she anticipates Taiwan-US relations will grow even closer and that we will make significant progress across all areas of our bilateral cooperation.
A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:
Following a previous trip in 1995, Representative Calvert is once again visiting Taiwan as he leads this bipartisan delegation of congress members. Representative [Ed] Case also visited Taiwan over 40 years ago. For other members of the House of Representatives joining us today, it is your first trip to Taiwan. On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I extend a very warm welcome to our friends, both old and new.
The House Committee on Appropriations oversees expenditures by the United States government. All of you also enjoy a significant influence over US defense policy and the allocation of US defense resources, and your visit to Taiwan comes just as the US Congress readies itself to set out its budget for work in the year ahead. And your presence thus demonstrates the importance that you attach to Taiwan's security and Taiwan-US relations.
The international landscape has changed considerably in recent years and we have faced some threats in the continued expansion of authoritarianism. Taiwan stands on the frontline in the defense of democracy. And we have continued to bolster our self-defense capabilities so as to ensure national security and uphold regional peace and stability.
Toward the end of last year, we set out a plan to enhance all-out defense and raise overall defense resilience through the restructuring of our armed forces. Starting from next year, we will make mandatory military service one year while strengthening associated training programs.
I also want to reiterate that the people of Taiwan are determined to safeguard their sovereignty and defend their homeland. We are willing and able to fortify cooperation with the United States and like-minded partners. Together, we can invest even more effort toward regional peace and stability and democratic resilience across the globe.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the US Congress for its unwavering bipartisan support for Taiwan. For example, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 as well as the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 include many items designed to strengthen regional security cooperation as well as initiatives supporting Taiwan's security. We look forward to Taiwan and the United States not only continuing to bolster military exchanges but also further elevating economic and trade ties.
In the trade area, with the support of the US Congress, the second round of negotiations under the Taiwan-US Initiative on 21st-Century Trade took place in January. It is our hope that Taiwan and the United States will reach a high-standard agreement in the areas of trade facilitation, labor rights, and digital trade. And this agreement, we hope, would then form a basis for both sides to sign a comprehensive bilateral trade agreement.
In closing, I once again welcome you all to Taiwan. Through your visit, I anticipate that Taiwan-US relations will grow even closer and that both sides will enjoy significant progress in all areas of cooperation. I wish you all a pleasant and fruitful trip here.
Chairman Calvert then delivered remarks and thanked President Tsai for welcoming the delegation and for her leadership. The chairman mentioned that they have seen many positive changes in Taiwan, and introduced the members of this bipartisan delegation: Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Representative Steve Womack of Arkansas, Representative Dave Joyce of Ohio, Representative Ed Case of Hawaii, and Representative Mike Garcia of California. Stating that they are all from the House Committee on Appropriations, he said that they are pleased to be meeting with President Tsai and her team.
Chairman Calvert added that they look forward to discussing regional security, trade, and investment, among other areas of mutual interest. He stated that the delegation has come to Taiwan to build on decades of peace and prosperity in the region and strengthen the ties between the United States and Taiwan. Chairman Calvert then thanked President Tsai again, and expressed his delegation's appreciation for this visit.
The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by American Institute in Taiwan Taipei Office Director Sandra Oudkirk.