TAIPEI (CNA) — The United States would respect the decision of the Taiwanese people in the 2020 presidential election and will work with the leader selected by the electorate, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman James Moriarty said on April 15.
“Of course, we would respect the will of the Taiwanese people,” he said. “Democracy chooses its own leaders, and the interests of countries and partners continue, and we would expect those interests to continue under any leadership the Taiwan people elect.”
“We respect the system here in Taiwan and we respect it to accurately reflect the will of the people,” Moriarty said in response to a question raised by Taiwanese tycoon Terry Gou (郭台銘) at a conference on the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in Taipei.
“We look forward to working with whatever government is sitting here in Taipei in 2020,” Moriarty said during the question-and-answer session.
Titled “Taiwan Relations Act @ 40: Where We’ve Been, and What’s Next?” the half-day event brought together former and current officials and academics from the U.S. and Taiwan to discuss the history of the TRA and the future relations of the two U.S.-Taiwan relations.
Moriarty was one of the speakers at the conference, while Gou was in the audience.
In raising his questions, Gou asked Moriarty to clarify whether the U.S. was sending a delegation led by former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan just to attend the TRA 40th anniversary events, or to endorse the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the Jan. 11, 2020 presidential election.
In response, the AIT chair said the U.S. was not endorsing any party.
“We would respect whatever choice the Taiwanese people make,” Moriarty said. “I hope I’m being clear. We do not plan to get involved in the Taiwan election.
That is not the goal of the U.S. The U.S.’ goal is to have a free and fair process that accurately reflects the will of the people and then it could partner with whatever administration is sitting here in Taipei in 2020.”
Gou later told reporters on the sidelines of the conference that he had attended the event specifically to raise that question and was happy to hear such a clear and concise answer from Moriarty.
On the question of his preferred candidate in the upcoming presidential election, Gou said Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) would be a “terrific candidate.” Han, however, has not yet announced his intention to run, despite strong calls from KMT supporters.
Gou, one of the richest tycoons in Taiwan, is the founder and chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the world’s largest multinational contract manufacturer of electronics.
The TRA was signed in April 1979 by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a few months after the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The AIT was launched in 1979 to serve as de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.
The TRA provides a legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan and enshrines in law the U.S.’ commitment to helping Taiwan maintain its self-defense capability.
By Joseph Yeh