News / Asia

Taiwan Hosts Visit of Highest-Level US Envoy in Five Years

U.S. Assistant Commerce Secretary Suresh Kumar. (file photo)
U.S. Assistant Commerce Secretary Suresh Kumar. (file photo)
Ralph Jennings

U.S. Assistant Commerce Secretary Suresh Kumar is visiting Taiwan this week to promote American exports on an island where people have money to spend, despite world economic turmoil.  Kumar is the most-senior U.S. official to visit Taiwan in five years -- a public diplomatic boost for the island since China normally condemns Taipei’s ties with the United States.

Suresh Kumar, the U.S. assistant secretary for trade promotion, is visiting Taiwan to advance the National Export Initiative, aimed at doubling American exports in five years and creating some two million American jobs. Taiwan’s economy is forecast to grow five percent this year, improving the Taiwanese ability to purchase American specialties such as beef, wine, travel and higher education.

Last year exports to Taiwan surged 41 percent, to $26 billion. Kumar told a group of some 100 Taiwan-based business people Wednesday that the country is poised to move up a spot to the ninth largest U.S. trading partner in 2011.

“While our trade relations are strong, the opportunities for further growth are immense," said Kumar. "Please let me make this extremely clear -- economic partnership between United States and Taiwan businesses is here to say. Both sides are committed and eager to work together and write new and prosperous chapters in our commercial relationship.”

Kumar’s visit, the highest level one from Washington since Deputy Trade Representative Karan Bhatia came to promote Washington's trade agenda in 2006, shows that the island is still an influential hub for international business and trade, despite the risk of backlash from Beijing.

China has claimed Taiwan as part of its territory since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. Beijing normally forbids its more than 170 diplomatic allies, including the United States, from making formal contact with the self-ruled island. Officials in Washington hope to avoid harsh words from Beijing as they seek deeper relations with world economic powerhouse.

Kumar met privately on Wednesday with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, as Mr. Ma steps up a campaign for reelection at the polls on January 14. His platform rests partly on proving he can maintain ties with world powers despite opposition from China. Alexander Huang, a strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan, says Kumar’s visit has domestic political implications for President Ma.

“Kumar’s visit is also very meaningful and important for the government of Taiwan because Taiwan has always put high on the agenda inviting and hoping that the United States executive branch officials can visit Taiwan to raise the profile of U.S.-Taiwan relations, especially in this campaign year for the president next January," said Huang. "I think Kumar’s visit will boost the image of sitting President Ma Ying-jeou and also can give the government another round of evidence to show how good the U.S.-Taiwan relationship is.”

President Ma has sought better ties with China by brokering trade talks since taking office in 2008, so officials in Beijing have lashed out less often at the island’s foreign policy.

China did not formally protest the 2006 visit, nor has it publicly objected to Kumar’s trip as he stops in Taiwan en route to trade promotion events in Southeast Asia.

Local media reported Taiwan’s president told Kumar that a market-opening pact that his negotiator signed with Beijing last year could open China to joint Taiwanese-American business ventures.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid