"The U.S.-Taiwan relationship is, by definition, unofficial," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell recently testified before the U.S. Congress. "[But] it has multiple dimensions, including political, economic, and security, as well as people-to-people ties. The expanding nature of each of these elements of our relationship is a testament to the bonds that we have built with the people of Taiwan."
The foundation of U.S.-Taiwan ties is common values and a shared belief in democracy. In January 2012, voters in Taiwan will go to the polls to exercise their right to determine the future course of their society, which marks the fifth direct presidential election since 1996. "We, as Americans, are excited about this process," Assistant Secretary Campbell said. "We do not believe any one party or leader on Taiwan has a monopoly on effective management of the relationship, and we do not take sides in the elections. We will work closely with whatever leadership emerges from Taiwan’s free and fair elections to build on our enduring commitment to Taiwan’s people, its prosperity, and peace."
The United States' economic ties with Taiwan are especially strong. Taiwan is the 9th -largest trading partner for the United States, with trade amounting to nearly $62 billion last year. Taiwan is the 6th largest export market for U.S. agricultural products and U.S. exports to Taiwan grew by 41 percent in 2010. The U.S. is also the largest foreign investor in Taiwan, with direct investments of over $21 billion.
The United States' security ties with Taiwan are perhaps the most high-profile element of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. "The United States has recently bolstered Taiwan’s capacity with a supply of carefully selected defense articles and services," Assistant Secretary Campbell said. "Taiwan must be confident that it has the capacity to resist intimidation and coercion as it continues to engage with the mainland."
"I have every confidence," Assistant Secretary Campbell concluded, "that Taiwan's future will always be based on a deep and abiding friendship with the American people."