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Senior U.S. diplomat appears at Taiwan event after Solomons switch

2019-09-20林曉琪  English News
Photo courtesy of CNA
Photo courtesy of CNA

Washington, Sept. 18 (CNA) The top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, David Stilwell, made a rare public appearance Wednesday at a Taiwan-organized event held in Washington, D.C. at a ceremony to mark Taiwan's plan to buy US$3.7 billion-worth of agricultural products from the U.S.

Stilwell, the assistant secretary of the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, attended a letter of intent signing ceremony between the Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission and a local agricultural product company.

The mission promised to buy US$3.7 billion-worth of corn, wheat and meat products from U.S. farmers over the next two years.

In an address during the ceremony, Stilwell said the deal is a further demonstration of the strong friendship between the U.S. and Taiwan, and he expressed gratitude to the mission for the large purchase.

"Over the transformative four decades, the U.S. and Taiwan have built a comprehensive, durable partnership grounded in shared interests and values," he said, referring to the fact that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

Bilateral relations have since evolved and two-way relations have broadened and deepened, he continued.

"The U.S. commitment to Taiwan in the close commercial, cultural, and other relations between us is stronger than ever," he said.

"And that partnership will continue to exceed the expectations of the TRA in ensuring the continuing contributions of the people in Taiwan to the global community," he concluded.

The U.S. switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing Jan. 1, 1979. A few months later, the U.S. Congress passed the TRA, which was promulgated by then-President Jimmy Carter April 10, 1979.

The TRA provides the legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, and enshrines the U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan in maintaining its self-defense capability.

Meanwhile, Council of Agriculture deputy chief Chen Junne-jih (陳駿季), the leader of the mission, told reporters that the latest deal represents a 23 percent increase over the mission's previous purchase of U.S. agricultural products in 2017.

Stilwell's public appearance at a Taiwan-organized event came only days after Taiwan cut diplomatic ties with the Solomon Islands Monday when the South Pacific island-nation decided to switch diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The U.S. has several times expressed its disappointment over the matter and has reiterated its support for Taiwan.