Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan: the First Taiwan Official to Enter the White House after Passage of the Taiwan Travel Act

Exchanging views with Congressman Brad Sherman and Congressman Ted Yoho in the Members’ Dining Room of the Capitol.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan’s “exchange and learning” trip to the United States from February 28 to March 10 this year was extremely beneficial, as he was able to promote Taoyuan’s contacts with its sister cities, as well as to clearly express Taiwan’s voice to the U.S. side, the Mayor said. “The visit served to increase the mutual trust between Taiwan and the U.S., deepening the Americans’ understanding of Taiwan,” Cheng said. He urged more regular dialogue between the Taiwan and U.S. governments so as to lead to greater support for Taiwan’s democracy, regional security, and bilateral economic cooperation.

Mayor Cheng noted that although a number of high-level visits have taken place between the two countries following passage of the Taiwan Travel Act by the U.S. Congress, the actual results have remained limited. He was the first head of a Taiwan local government to be able to go to the White House for discussions with U.S. officials, a definite breakthrough.

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Hanscom Smith and Mayor Cheng explored ways to further promote the extensive, close, and friendly commercial and cultural relations between the United States and Taiwan.

Even more importantly, however, this visit was a chance to fully enunciate Taiwan’s position on important topics. At the U.S. Department of State, Cheng met with Hanscom Smith, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Jim Heller, Director of the Office of Taiwan Coordination, to discuss bilateral economic and cultural issues. In response to the meeting, the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and the American Institute in Taiwan took the initiative of posting information on Mayor Cheng’s visit to the United States on Twitter and Facebook, indicating the U.S. side’s positive view of the state of bilateral relations.

Mayor Cheng said that through speeches, seminars, and other occasions during this trip, he was able to explain his views to American counterparts regarding cross-strait relations, U.S.-China-Taiwan relations, and the U.S.-China trade war. Especially noteworthy was the speech he delivered at the Hudson Institute on the topic of “Taiwan’s Role in the U.S.-Indo-Pacific Strategy.” On October 4, 2018, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the same venue, stating that “Taiwan’s embrace of democracy shows a better path for all the Chinese people.” In his remarks, Cheng emphasized that “Democratic Taiwan should not be forced to change or be coerced by external forces.” Both American political parties recognize that Taiwan is a model for democracy in Asia and should not be threatened military by China, and that cross-strait differences should be resolved by “peaceful dialogue” without resort to military force, Cheng said.

 

Taoyuan City: Promoting exchanges between Taiwan and the United States and enhancing mutual friendship.

The itinerary of the Taoyuan City Government delegation in the United States included visits with the leaders of Taoyuan sister cities such as San Bernardino County, Long Beach, and Irvine. In addition, the group called on Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Nina Hachigian and the international affairs department of the New York City government. It also visited eight think tanks, more than 30 scholars and experts, the U.S. headquarters of Evergreen Marine, Ontario International Airport, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Group photo with Senator Tim Kaine and Senator Todd Young.

Mayor Cheng noted that the many American political figures met with on this trip included U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Todd Young; Congressman Brad Sherman, chairman of Asia Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Congressman Ted Yoho, the ranking minority member of that subcommittee. Mayor Cheng stressed that Taoyuan is the gateway to Taiwan, as well as bridge between Taiwan and American cities. Besides hoping for more flights between Taoyuan and North America, Cheng said he would like to see more cooperation between Taoyuan and American companies. He said he also intends to promote more sister-city with U.S. cities in the future.

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