Taiwan is one of America’s most reliable and important partners.

Assistant Secretary of State David R. Stilwell emphasized the strength of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship at an online Heritage Foundation event August 31. He discussed the high level of military, economic and political engagement between the U.S. and Taiwan.

“America and Taiwan are members of the same community of democracies, bound by our shared political, economic, and international values,” Stilwell said.

“More than ever, Taiwan is important to America, and important to the world,” he said.

Assuring defense and security

Stilwell made it clear that the United States is maintaining its longstanding One China policy, but is updating its engagement with Taiwan. That includes military collaboration and cooperation to counterbalance Beijing’s destabilizing behavior.

“The U.S. maintains extensive, close and friendly unofficial relations with Taipei, including commitments to assist Taiwan in its self-defense,” Stilwell said. The U.S. is “making some important updates to our engagement with Taiwan to better reflect … the increasing threat posed by Beijing to peace and stability in the region.”

Stilwell repeated the Six Assurances concerning weapons sales to Taiwan that Washington gave to Taipei in 1982. He announced the U.S. has declassified the two diplomatic cables in which President Ronald Reagan assured Taiwan that the United States:

  • Has not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan.
  • Has not agreed to consult with the People’s Republic of China on arms sales to Taiwan.
  • Will not play a mediation role between Taipei and Beijing.
  • Has not agreed to revise the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act.
  • Has not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan.
  • Will not exert pressure on Taiwan to enter into negotiations with the PRC.

The declassified cables show the United States has maintained a consistent position on weapon sales to Taiwan for almost 40 years, which counters Beijing’s revisionist history. Stilwell said that as the PRC’s People’s Liberation Army upgrades its sophistication and abilities, the United States will help Taiwan maintain a credible deterrent.

“We will continue to help Taipei resist the Chinese Communist Party’s campaign to pressure, intimidate, and marginalize Taiwan,” Stilwell said. “The fundamental U.S. interest is that the Taiwan question be resolved peacefully, without coercion, and in a manner acceptable to the people on both sides of the [Taiwan] Strait.”

Naval ship's deck with view of ocean and clouds (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cody Beam)
The guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin conducts routine operations in the East China Sea on August 18 in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cody Beam)

Strengthening economic ties

Stilwell also announced a new U.S.-Taiwan economic dialogue, which will cover “the full spectrum of our economic relationship.”

He praised the $12 billion investment in the U.S. that Taiwanese semiconductor company TSMC announced in May and Taiwan’s decision in August to remove longstanding barriers to U.S. beef and pork.

With these developments, “I would expect Taiwan to become an even more important trade partner of the United States,” he said.

Setting a political example

Stilwell also praised Taiwan as a beacon of democratic governance, with freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and free and open elections that people everywhere aspire to.

He pointed out that Taiwan has had one of the most effective responses to COVID-19 anywhere in the world. He called on countries to reject Beijing’s bullying and support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.

Taiwan is “a vision of a democratic Chinese society and polity that is prosperous, harmonious, free, and highly respected by people all around the world,” Stilwell said.

“The United States could not be prouder to work side by side with such a good friend as Taiwan,” he said.