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Cablegate: Congressional Delegation Led by Representative

VZCZCXRO9433
OO RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #1209/01 2261109
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131109Z AUG 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9747
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8534
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 9747
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0143
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2806
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 1383
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9741
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 2203
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 6764
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 001209

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE FOR
REPRESENTATIVE COSTELLO
STATE PASS USTR FOR STRATFORD AND KATZ
USDA FOR FAS/OCRA FOR RADLER, BEILLARD, FAS/OSTA FOR
HAMILTON, BEAN, DAWSON, FAS/OFSO FOR BREHM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON EAGR MARR US TW
SUBJECT: CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION LED BY REPRESENTATIVE
COSTELLO MEETS WITH PRESIDENT MA YING-JEOU

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: The Congressional delegation led by
Representative Jerry Costello (D-IL) met with President Ma
Ying-jeou at the Presidential Office on August 11. Ma noted
the delegation was the largest to visit Taiwan in recent
years, and said he hoped more Congressional and Staff
delegations would visit Taiwan in the future. Ma said the
improvement of cross-Strait relations will not affect
Taiwan's arms procurement from the U.S., and he expressed
hope that the U.S. administration will soon notify pending
arms sales to Congress. Rep. Costello assured Ma that
Congress will be prepared to act expeditiously on arms
notifications sent over from the Executive branch. Ma
expressed appreciation for U.S. support for Taiwan's efforts
to participate in international organizations, including WHO,
explaining that Taiwan hopes to become an observer at the
WHA. He mentioned Taiwan's interest in an FTA, and told the
delegation Taiwan is looking for a way to resolve the beef
issue. Members of the delegation expressed strong support
for U.S.-Taiwan relations and told Ma they would encourage
their colleagues to visit Taiwan. End Summary.

2. (SBU) The Congressional delegation from the House
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure led by
Representative Jerry Costello (D-IL) met with President Ma
Ying-jeou at the Presidential Office on August 11. President
Ma welcomed the group, observing it was the largest
Congressional delegation to visit Taiwan in recent years.
Noting the contribution of Congressional visits to improving
mutual trust and U.S. understanding of Taiwan, Ma expressed
hope more Congressional and staff delegations will visit in
the future. Noting the delegation's interest in Taiwan's
airplane repair facilities and High Speed Rail (HSR),
President Ma said these were two areas in which Taiwan has
made notable achievements in recent years. He suggested
there might be a market for high speed rail in certain areas
of the U.S., such as the northeast corridor between Boston
and Washington.

3. (SBU) Since taking office on May 20, Ma emphasized, the
new government has been working to improve mutual trust
between Taiwan and the U.S., which was damaged over the past
eight years of the previous administration. Ma said he was
pleased to see President Bush's recent positive assessment of
the ongoing improvement of cross-Strait relations in an
interview with Asian journalists. The improvement of
cross-Strait relations, which has a positive effect on
U.S.-Taiwan relations, will not affect arms procurement from
the U.S., he stressed. Taiwan is determined to strengthen
its defense capability and to maintain defense spending at 3
percent of GDP. Taiwan sent a weapons procurement list to
the U.S. last year, Ma recalled, and he hoped the U.S.
administration would soon notify these sales to Congress. Ma
noted Taiwan's wish to sign an FTA with the U.S. in the
future. He told the delegation that Taiwan is looking for a
way to solve the U.S. beef import issue that accords with the
interests of both sides.

4. (SBU) Thanking President Ma for taking time to meet with
the delegation, Rep. Costello explained that their visit had
two purposes: to show that the U.S. values and wants to
continue strengthening the long-term U.S.-Taiwan
relationship, and to learn about transportation in Taiwan.
Noting the delegation had ridden Taiwan's world-class HSR the
day before, he pointed out that his committee was working to
promote HSR in the U.S., adding that he was interested in a
potential route from Chicago to St. Louis. Rep. Costello
introduced the other members of his delegation and invited
them to ask questions or offer comments. Rep. Tim Holden

TAIPEI 00001209 002 OF 003


(D-PA), who explained he was also a member of the House
Agriculture Committee, expressed hope Taiwan would lift the
impediments to imports of U.S. pork and certain beef
products. He pointed out that beef and pork, which are
important U.S. export commodities, fully meet requisite
health standards. Responding that he looked forward to
cooperating on such issues, President Ma said that every
product should be given a fair opportunity.

5. (SBU) Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) underscored the close
connections between Tennessee and Taiwan and the value of
U.S.-Taiwan friendship. Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) stressed
that it was important that such a large delegation had been
able to visit Taiwan. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
noted her interest in HSR in Texas and said she was always
pleased to be on record supporting Taiwan. Rep. Michael
Capuano (D-MA) expressed appreciation for the close
relationship between Taiwan and Massachusetts. Rep. Dan
Lipinski (D-IL) emphasized the visit had given him an
understanding of the critical importance of the U.S.-Taiwan
relationship and said he looked forward to working to further
enhance the relationship. Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK) recalled
her previous visit to Taiwan as Lt. Governor of Oklahoma,
noting that Oklahoma and Taiwan have close relations in
science, technology, and business. She expressed her support
for Taiwan, pointing out that Taiwan and the U.S. share a
love of liberty and freedom. Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC) also
emphasized the importance of U.S. Taiwan relations, and said
he was pleased that four Kidd class destroyers provided to
Taiwan had been refurbished in his state at Charleston.

6. (SBU) Rep. Costello told President Ma that the intention
of Congress is to act quickly once the administration submits
notification requests to Congress for arms sales to Taiwan.
On Taiwan's interest in an FTA, he explained that important
new decisions like a possible FTA would be up to the next
administration that will come into office after the U.S.
presidential election. No matter who is elected, the U.S.
desire will be to maintain and continue to further develop
the strong relationship we have had over the past 50 years,
Rep. Costello assured Ma.

7. (SBU) Making a point that there is no contradiction
between arms procurement and the improvement of cross-Strait
relations, President Ma recalled that Taiwan bought 160 F-16s
from the U.S. and at the same time reached the 1992 consensus
with the mainland during the early 1990s. Taiwan accepted
the "one China principle, but with different
interpretations," under which the PRC and ROC coexist and do
not challenge each other's different definitions of one
China. This position provided the basis for resuming
cross-Strait negotiations in June and for opening weekend
cross-Strait charter flights and bringing Chinese tourists to
Taiwan. Taiwan intends to pursue more negotiations on
cross-Strait economic relations, including investment
guarantees, taxation issues, high-tech specifications, and
allowing Taiwan's financial service industry to enter the
mainland. The improvement of cross-Strait relations will
contribute to peace and stability in the region, Ma stressed.
Taiwan, which hopes for U.S. support, wants to be a
responsible stakeholder in the region, a peacemaker, and not
a troublemaker.

8. (SBU) "International space" is another important issue
for Taiwan, Ma continued. Taiwan hopes to join or
participate in the activities of various international
organizations in the future. The U.S., Japan, and EU have
been very helpful in supporting Taiwan's efforts to
participate in the WHO, and Taiwan hopes at least to become
an observer at the WHA. As attested by the SARS outbreak

TAIPEI 00001209 003 OF 003


five years ago, health is a human rights, not a political,
issue, Ma observed. The people of Taiwan would benefit from
having more information on health issues, and Taiwan, with
its high-quality health care system, can provide assistance
to WHO members.

9. (SBU) Explaining that the delegation he was leading was
bipartisan, Rep. Costello said the group would work to
strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations and would also let the next
administration understand that this was their wish. He said
he hoped to visit Taiwan again and would encourage other
Congressional delegations to visit Taiwan. President Ma and
Rep. Costello commented on the important role played by AIT
in the relationship. Ma noted that France and Germany have
copied the AIT model, and although AIT is an unusual
institution, it has proven very effective.

10. (U) The delegation did not have an opportunity to clear
this cable.
YOUNG

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