Amb. Stephen S.F. Chen's Opening Remarks at the International Conference on 30 Years of TRA
Delivered at the International Conference on 30 Years of TRA
--Retrospect and Prospects
At Taipei, the Republic of China
By Stephen S.F. Chen
Convener of the National Security Division,
National Policy Foundation
April 12, 2009
President Ma, Ambassador Winston Lord, honorable guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed a pleasure and privilege that the National Policy Foundation and the Cross-Strait Interflow Prospect Foundation, under the leadership of Chairman Lin Bih-jaw, have the opportunity to co-host this International Conference on 30 Years of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) in Taipei. On behalf of Chairman Lien Chan of my foundation, who is currently on an overseas trip, I am honored and privileged to deliver the opening remarks. First of all, I would like to extend our warm welcome to our guests and scholars for their attendance, especially to those who have taken the long trip to come here from the United States. I would also like to thank the Foreign Ministry and the Mainland Affairs Council for their assistance, without which, this conference would not have been possible.
Sixty years ago, after the Republic of China government relocated from the Mainland to Taipei in 1949, the diplomatic ties between the Republic of China and the US became the most important link in our foreign relations. I should also mention the epic victory in the Battle of Kuningtou on Kinmen (Quemoy) Island on October 25, 1949, which was a crucial morale booster for the government and our people. We owe a debt of gratitude to the fallen heroes in that decisive battle.
With the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, Taiwan’s strategic status became more and more important in the Asia-Pacific region. Although the US government did not invite the Republic of China to the Peace Conference with Japan held in San Francisco in 1951, given the opposition from the Soviet Union, the UK and India, it urged Japan to sign a separate Treaty of Peace with the Republic of China in 1952. Also, in 1954, the United States signed the Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of China.
The signing of the two treaties proves the fact that Taiwan belongs to the Republic of China. The two treaties helped us to successfully contain the expansion of communism, making a great contribution to the world peace.
Meanwhile, after the international status of the Republic of China was stabilized, including maintaining the permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the Republic of China was able to develop its economy, promote trade and enhance the welfare of its people in a more stable environment. In addition, upon such a solid economic foundation, we kept advancing the democratization process in our country. All in all, the US’s policy to maintain diplomatic ties with the Republic of China at that time contributed greatly to Taiwan’s development.
Parallel to the erosion of the Republic of China’s position in the United Nations, the United States, with new strategic thinking, decided to normalize relations with Mainland China. The US under the Carter administration formally recognized the People’s Republic of China at the end of 1978.
Actually, from Nixon, Ford to Carter, the US government had not been candid with the Republic of China in its efforts to normalize relations with the Mainland; the US had owed one of its staunchest allies, the Republic of China, so to speak. Regarding this, we can get a general outline from the memoirs of James Shen, our last Ambassador to the US, titled, “My Eight Years as Chinese Ambassador in Washington.”
When the US decided to sever diplomatic ties with the Republic of China, the Carter administration drafted a “Taiwan Omnibus Bill” and sent it to the Congress for approval; however, the Congress did not pass it. Rather, the Congress replaced it with a new version, titled “the Taiwan Relations Act.” Although we regretted the US’s decision to break diplomatic ties with the Republic of China, we were grateful for what the US Congress had done for us.
Time passes so quickly. It’s been thirty years since the “Taiwan Relations Act” was enacted. Over the past thirty years, in the absence of formal diplomatic ties between the ROC and the US, the “Taiwan Relations Act”, a US domestic law, has provided a legal framework in maintaining a substantive relationship between the two countries.
The Republic of China has faced all kinds of difficulties but has never given up or succumbed to adversities. The Republic of China continues to flourish with economic development and democratization advancing side by side.
Since the Republic of China held its first direct Presidential election in 1996, Freedom House, a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in New York, has listed the Republic of China in the free country category. Last year, the Republic of China underwent its second turnover of ruling parties; US President George W. Bush issued a statement, congratulating President Ma Ying-jeou on his victory. President Bush praised Taiwan as a beacon of democracy for Asia and the world.
The remarks from both Freedom House and President Bush are the kind of praise we deserve. It is the outcome of the entire nation’s endeavors.
Today, on the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the “Taiwan Relations Act”, let us seize the opportunity to review the past, examine the present, and look into the future, which I think is highly important and meaningful.
Finally, I would like to wish the conference every success and thank everyone of you again for your attendance.
Thank you very much.