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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid