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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs