Mike’s Remarks At The Prospect Foundation
March 3, 2022
Remarks in Taiwan
March 3, 2022
The Prospect Foundation
Thank you for the introduction, Dr. Lai. It’s tremendous to be here with you all.
I want to start by thanking President Tsai Ing-wen for her government’s gracious hospitality during my time here, and also acknowledge her steadfast leadership. She continues to be the leader Taiwan needs in this crucial moment of history.
I would also like to thank the tremendous welcome I have received from the Taiwanese people who have created this amazing miracle of island democracy. I also want to thank the handful of protesters outside of my hotel. You are living proof of this nation’s democracy. And, you remind me of home.
I’ve spoken about Taiwan a great deal in the past, especially during my time serving as America’s 70th Secretary of State. And yet, this is the first time I have had the privilege of visiting your great and free nation. I’m thrilled to be here, and to experience your distinct, unmistakably free culture and society.
Now, I know I look a bit thinner than I did during my days as Secretary, but don’t think for a second that’s going to stop me from trying all the incredible food here. I’ve been recommended the beef noodle soup and the pineapple cakes. Last year your ambassador, Hsiao Bi-khim (SHE-oh BEE-kim), dropped off some dried pineapple made right here in Taiwan – it was a big hit in the Pompeo house!
I can’t tell you how I lost all the weight, but that Taiwanese fruit and a little Australian wine were part of it.
Your country is beautiful, with a rich history and deep traditions.
There’s much to discuss today, but I’d like to start by highlighting some of Taiwan’s most impressive achievements.
Your devotion to liberty here, combined with the unmatched work ethic of the Taiwanese people, has produced national accomplishments which are remarkable.
Your free economy is among the most prosperous in the world.
You are one of the few countries that has experienced continuous economic growth during the past five years. In fact, last year you experienced your strongest economic growth in a decade.
Even more impressive, though, has been the character of innovation in your economy. Spurred on by your free market system, the companies here in Taiwan are the envy of the world.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that practically every electronic device in the world has something made by Taiwan’s TSMC. Foxconn makes phones, laptops, and so many crucial parts for electronics. The list goes on and on. What these accomplishments amount to is the simple fact that Taiwan’s economy is one of the most important in the world.
The Importance of Free Nations
Taiwan’s existence as a free nation has enabled these great economic achievements.
In light of this, it is worth considering the importance of upholding and defending the sovereignty of free peoples in the world.
Of standing for freedom, together, wherever liberty is threatened.
When we lose sight of how important this is, there are consequences.
Consider World War II – after the annexation of Austria, Hitler did not stop; he wanted Sudetenland, and after Sudetenland, he wanted the Polish Corridor.
He was banking that nobody would stop him, that nations would value their own peace and security more than the freedom of others. That nobody would stand for freedom until it was too late.
Look at Ukraine in recent weeks.
Vladimir Putin, a dictator with no regard for freedom, decided he would invade Ukraine and begin redrawing the borders of Russia and its neighbors with military force. The Ukrainian people do not wish to be under Russia’s thumb, and they will fight and bloody their invaders in their fight for freedom. But I fear that unless the European nations in particular oppose Russia with great resolve, the light of freedom may be snuffed out there.
And make no mistake, Vladimir Putin will not stop with Ukraine.
He will not stop until he can reestablish Russia’s influence across the old borders of the Soviet Union.
North Korea, under the rule of the Kim regime, will continue to provoke and threaten South Korea until its threats are appeased, and freedom dies.
Will appeasement continue, or will we refuse to concede liberty and security in exchange for broken deals?
In the Trump Administration, we brokered a deal without appeasing Kim regime or compromising the security of our allies. I hope this strategy will continue.
And most importantly for our discussion today: How will we handle the aggression of the People’s Republic of China?
The Challenge Posed by the People’s Republic of China
When the United States opened its engagement with communist China 50 years ago, President Richard Nixon had hoped that the free world’s interaction with the communist dictatorship might induce a freer and more open People’s Republic of China. Part of that strategy was also based upon the Cold War necessity of defeating a common enemy, the Soviet Union.
This approach, though, imagined a future different than the brutal reality which has developed. Reflecting on his opening to China, President Nixon stated that America’s engagement policy with that Communist dictatorship “may have created a Frankenstein.”
Yet, despite President Nixon’s honest and accurate acknowledgment of the failure of a long-standing engagement policy, few in Washington proved willing and courageous enough to reverse direction.
With the election of President Donald Trump, we finally determined that the time for naïve engagement with the Chinese Communist Party must come to end.
As we’ve learned so painfully — and especially you, the Taiwanese people, who have seen it firsthand — over the past few decades, China did not become freer as it became richer.
We started out by addressing our broken trade deals, but we soon realized the problems were far more extensive.
Consider the current moment.
We should note that China broke another promise. In the “China-Ukraine” strategic partnership, each promised to “offer support to each other on issues concerning national sovereignty and… territorial integrity. Another promise broken.
The long list of the CCP’s malign acts reflects communist China’s vision for global dominance.
The dark future of a world under a communist dictatorship, empowered by economic strength and next generation technologies, has become more and more realistic. That’s why I have repeatedly said, and much of the world is now in agreement, that the danger posed by the CCP is the central threat of our time.
As Secretary, I led the effort at the Department of State to confront our flawed relationship with the PRC – with candor, reciprocity, multilateral coalition-building and principled realism.
We renegotiated trade deals; we rallied our allies to confront the CCP and its predatory economic practices; we recognized the atrocities being committed against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang as genocide and crimes against humanity. We sanctioned CCP officials across the board for engaging in violations of human rights.
We strengthened our military ties with our partners and allies across the Indo Pacific, in order to deter China’s authoritarian aggression.
And outside of the Department of State, we increased investments in our military and began the important process of decreasing the dependence of our critical supply chains on the PRC.
This work was essential to waking up to the threat the Chinese Communist Party poses to America and the entire world.
How the PRC views Taiwan
Here in Taiwan, though, you all have been awake to this threat from the beginning. The world drew inspiration from the Taiwanese people’s profound and realistic distrust of the Chinese Communist Party.
That’s why I keep saying that when it comes to dealing with the CCP, distrust and verify. I have found no bigger echo to that sentiment than here in Taiwan.
The CCP’s drive to invade Taiwan and impose its dominance by force is driven by several reasons, all of which are connected. Understanding these reasons helps us confront the threat with clear eyes.
First, the CCP leadership views taking over Taiwan as the ultimate fulfillment of a decades-long communist ideological commitment. From Mao to Deng to Xi Jinping, the inability to fulfill this commitment has been a major stain on the CCP’s domestic reputation. Under Xi, the CCP’s ideological hubris has reached new heights, thus making the taking over of Taiwan a necessary mission to not only boost Xi’s egomaniac claim of greatness, but to solidify it.
It’s clear that Xi now believes the PRC is stronger than the U.S. We saw this with Yang Jiechi’s arrogant tirade against the U.S. in Anchorage during their first meeting with the Biden Administration.
This makes Xi dangerous – the very belief that the PRC could prevail in a confrontation with the United States and our allies makes the risk of conflict much, much greater. And because America is the most decisive backer of Taiwan’s freedom, taking over Taiwan would change the global balance of power, decidedly in the CCP’s favor.
Secondly, China’s saber rattling against Taiwan also comes from fear and paranoia.
As I said, Taiwan is a living example of the success of freedom and democracy for the Chinese people.
So long as this example exists, it severely undermines the credibility and authority of the CCP, especially with the Chinese people who are under their thumb.
One of the most momentous events in my tenure as the Secretary of State was to witness the painful death of Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy. Their brutally successful take-over of Hong Kong last year boosted Xi’s hubris.
He won’t be satisfied to stop at Hong Kong – Taiwan is an integral part of the One Country-Two systems scheme championed by the CCP. Making good on those ambitions is central to Xi maintaining his power, and the CCP maintaining its legitimacy.
I mentioned the consequences we face with not standing for freedom. The same is true here: After Hong Kong, Xi will want Taiwan.
And after Taiwan, he will want the South China Sea, then the Senkakus, and so on. If we do not learn the lessons of history, if we do not confront authoritarians who have no regard for the freedom and independence of those they do not control, then we will be drawn into a conflict that is far greater than it would have been had we acted sooner.
It is for these reasons that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship is fundamental to confronting China and promoting prosperity throughout the region. This is something I recognized during my time as Secretary of State, and it is something that must become an essential part of our nation’s foreign policy now and in the future.
The Trump Administration eliminated all barriers to US diplomats meeting with their Taiwan counterparts. We enacted policies which encouraged greater science and technological exchange between our two nations.
We sold over $20 billion worth of arms to Taiwan, which made Taiwan safer and further cemented our important relationship.
That’s something that I’m pleased to see has continued under the Biden Administration.
And we fought hard on the international stage for Taiwan, advocating for its admission to the World Health Assembly.
The United States must support Taiwan for the same reason that Americans defended West Berlin during the Cold War. We knew then that if West Berlin fell, freedom would die in that part of the world.
I know the stakes here, having commanded a tank platoon in West Germany during the final years of the Soviet Union. Our mission was to patrol the border and deter the threat of invasion.
Much like West Germany then, Taiwan today is a shining example of democracy and freedom.
I am but a private citizen, but it is necessary to change 50 years of ambiguity. It’s about America’s diplomatic recognition of the Republic of China (Taiwan). While the U.S. should continue to engage the People’s Republic of China as a sovereign government, America’s diplomatic recognition of the 23 million free Taiwanese people and its legal, democratically elected government can no longer be ignored, avoided, or treated as secondary.
It is my view that the U.S. government should immediately take necessary, and long-overdue, steps to do the right and obvious thing, that is to offer the Republic of China (Taiwan) America’s diplomatic recognition as a free and sovereign country. This is not about Taiwan’s future independence, it is about recognizing an unmistakable, already existent reality. That reality is this, as many of your past and present leaders have made clear, there is no need for Taiwan to declare independence because it’s already an independent country. Its name is the Republic of China (Taiwan). The people and government of the United States should simply recognize this political, diplomatic and sovereignty reality. The Taiwanese people deserve the world’s respect for a free, democratic and sovereign country.
You are the most vibrant democracy in all of Asia and are at the forefront of today’s fight between freedom and tyranny.
I believe that Taiwan must have America’s support if freedom and democracy still have a chance to thrive and triumph in this region and beyond. This is as important for the Taiwanese people as it is for the American people.
American support of Taiwan is absolutely bipartisan.
Taiwan is crucial to U.S. defense and deterrence. It is situated right in the middle of our defensive parameters, from Japan to Korea to the Philippines in the South China Sea. Losing Taiwan would directly imperil our other vital national interests as well.
With America now awake to the threat China poses not just to the United States, but to the entire world, the intellectual and strategic traditions which have guided you are now invaluable to all the world. Taiwan has the most sophisticated understanding, richest experiences, and most efficient tool kits to deal with its old foe, the CCP. The rest of the world can for this reason learn many things from the Taiwanese people.
In today’s global awakening to the CCP threat, Taiwan has proved to be a force for good and an inspiration for the Chinese world.
If democracy should come to China one day, our best and most efficient partner will undoubtedly be the Republic of China (Taiwan).
The futures of Taiwan and the United States are intertwined, because our interests are very much aligned.
We are each committed to ensuring peaceful relations and stability in the Taiwan straits, and indeed throughout the Indo-Pacific region. This commitment was at the core of the Trump administration’s approach to this crucial area of the world, and the security and integrity of Taiwan remains vital to that mission now and in the future.
Taiwan and the United States are aligned according to our values and principles.