Taiwan's importance to the U.S. 'undoubted': AIT Director
Taipei, March 11 (CNA)
In an interview with CNA, Stanton examined the development of Taiwan-U.S. relations since he took over the post in August 2009 and said the two sides maintain close ties and share common values such as democracy and human rights.
Despite having a small population of just 23 million, Taiwan is the 10th largest trading partner and the 15th largest export destination for the U.S, said the head of the AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.
Stanton said China imports three times as much as Taiwan does from the U.S. despite having a population that is 57 times bigger, indicating Taiwan's economic significance for the United States.
In addition, Taiwan has the fifth most students of any country studying in the U.S., and, according to AIT figures, 80 percent of the members of Taiwan's Cabinet received degrees in the U.S., he said.
Aside from that, Stanton said, Taiwan is the only place among Chinese-speaking people that enjoys true democracy and realizes values that the U.S. also stands for -- democracy, human rights and freedom.
Even with frequent exchanges in different areas between the two countries, however, people sometimes focus too much on a single issue and can therefore ignore the fact that the two are important partners in many so fields, the U.S. official said.
If the beef issue can be resolved, it would be a huge step forward for Taiwan-U.S. ties, and the two sides could resume long-stalled bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), he said.
He was referring to Taiwan's possible acceptance of U.S. beef containing ractopamine residues, a leanness enhancer used by the U.S. meat industry that is banned in a large part of the world, including Taiwan.
(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Jamie Wang)