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Presidential Office thanks Obama administration for deepening ties

ROC Central News Agency

2016/12/17 13:17:55

Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) Taiwan's Presidential Office on Saturday thanked the U.S. government for deepening U.S.-Taiwan relations and said it hopes to further strengthen ties with the incoming administration under President Donald Trump.

Alex Huang, the spokesman for the Presidential Office, said Taiwan thanked the administration of President Barak Obama for its support over the past eight years, including selling arms to Taiwan, helping to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capabilities, upgrading bilateral trade and economic relations and helping Taiwan participate in international activities.

"As a democracy just like the United States, we also thank the U.S. government for not treating its relationship with Taiwan as subordinate to or an extension of U.S. relations with other countries and for strengthening U.S.-Taiwan relations step by step," Huang said.

"Taiwan hopes to strengthen its relations with the incoming Trump administration on this robust foundation for bilateral relations," he said.

The statement also stated the Tsai administration was committed to maintaining the status quo of peace across the Taiwan Strait.

"It is our government's abiding position to maintain Taiwan's freedom and democracy and to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait and the status quo of peace and stability in cross-Taiwan Strait relations," Huang added.

Huang made the comments after Obama spoke of Taiwan and China Friday at his yearend press conference, his last before departing the White House on Jan. 20.

It was the first time Obama spoke extensively about the U.S.-China-Taiwan triangular relationship since President-elect Donald Trump made surprising remarks questioning Washington's one China policy, under which it acknowledges but does not necessarily accept Beijing's position that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it.

The U.S. president said that there has been a longstanding agreement between China, the United States and, to some degree, the Taiwanese, and that is to not change the status quo.

"China views Taiwan as part of China, but recognizes that it has to approach Taiwan as an entity that has its own ways of doing things," Obama said. "The Taiwanese have agreed that as long as they're able to continue to function with some degree of autonomy, that they won't charge forward and declare independence."

"And that status quo, although not completely satisfactory to any of the parties involved, has kept the peace and allowed the Taiwanese to be a pretty successful economy and a people who have a high degree of self-determination," he said.

He raised cautions about changing the status quo.

"But understand, for China, the issue of Taiwan is as important as anything on their docket. The idea of one China is at the heart of their conception as a nation," Obama said.

He was answering a question on whether Washington's policy toward China could use a fresh approach as suggested by Trump's recent comments. The president-elect took a call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and later appeared to say that he would not necessarily be bound by Washington's longstanding one China policy, unless the U.S. got some trade concessions from Beijing.

"If you are going to upend this understanding, you have to have thought through what the consequences are, because the Chinese will not treat that the way they'll treat some other issues. They won't even treat it the way they treat issues around the South China Sea, where we've had a lot of tensions. This goes to the core of how they see themselves," said Obama. "And their reaction on this issue could end up being very significant."

"That doesn't mean that you have to adhere to everything that's been done in the past. It does mean that you've got to think it through and have planned for potential reactions that they may engage in," he added.

(By Rita Cheng and Jay Chen)

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