Stephen Young, director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said the United States would continue to supply weapons to Taipei.
“We also expect our traditional close security cooperation to continue, as we are convinced American support for Taiwan’s defence gives its democratic leaders the confidence to explore closer ties with its big neighbour without fear of pressure or coercion,” he said in an address to the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) here.
Taiwan has been governed separately since the end of a 1949 civil war, but Beijing has repeatedly threatened to invade should the island declare formal independence, and has targeted it with more than 1,000 ballistic missiles.
Washington has been the island’s leading arms supplier, despite switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
But Taipei-Washington ties were frustrated by cross-strait tensions under the outgoing pro-independence government and Ma, of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang, has vowed to improve relations.
Young also hailed the unprecedented contacts between the island and China earlier this month.
“We applaud both sides of the Strait for facilitating vice president-elect Vincent Siew’s recent participation in the Boao Forum, during which he held a highly symbolic meeting with People’s Republic of China President Hu Jintao,” Young said.
Tuesday April 29, 2008