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Press Release

Departure Statement-- Dr. Richard C. Bush AIT Chairman and Managing Director Wednesday, December 15, 1999 (as Delivered)

PR9966E | Date: 1999-12-15

I have just about completed my fifth visit to Taiwan as chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan. It has been a busy and fruitful visit. As always, I have learned a lot about Taiwan and its people. I also reconfirmed that my golf game still needs a lot of progress.

I wish to thank all those individuals who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with me. I deeply appreciate the arrangements of AIT's Taipei office, led by our fine Director, Raymond Burghardt. And I want to thank those agencies here that helped make the arrangements.

In about three months, Taiwan will hold its second direct democratically contested presidential election. This will be another milestone in Taiwan's remarkable democratic development. The people of the island have the special opportunity and solemn responsibility to pick the leaders who will serve them for the next four years.

What is the attitude of the United States towards the results of Taiwan's upcoming election?

First of all, the United States does not favor one candidate over another or one party over another. We vigorously have supported the transformation of Taiwan into a democratic system, and we're pleased that the people of Taiwan would now have the ability to choose their high leaders. This is their right and their responsibility, and we will work with whomever they choose to be their next president and vice president.

The United States will focus on the policies that the newly elected president pursues, and whether they promote the fundamental interests of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait which are so important to the United States. If the new Taiwan administration's policies converge with our own interests, then there will be no problem. If they do not, then we will discuss the differences in a spirit of friendship.

Since my last visit to Taiwan in July, the people of Taiwan faced the tragedy of the massive earthquake on September 21. I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to those who lost loved ones and property in the disaster. At the same time, I would like to congratulate the people of Taiwan for the amazing strength and resilience and speed of efforts to rebuild and restore what has been lost. Taiwan's recovery from the earthquake has made a deep impression on the American people.

The traditional bonds of friendship between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan remain as strong and vibrant as ever. As Taiwan and its new leaders enter the new century, they can count on the United States to pursue a steady and constructive policy toward East Asia and the Taiwan Strait area. We will adhere to our one-China policy. We will insist on a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan Strait issue. And we are confident that creative and constructive dialogue between the two sides of the Strait provides the means to bring about, on a mutually acceptable basis, a lasting peace in this important region.

Thank you very much.