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A Conversation with Taiwanese Vice President Annette Lu [Rush Transcript; Federal News Service]

Speaker: Annette Hsiu-lien Lu, Vice President of Taiwan (Via Teleconference)
Moderator: Jerome A. Cohen, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
January 17, 2007
Council on Foreign Relations

Council on Foreign Relations, New York City, New York

January 17, 2007

JEROME A. COHEN: Could I have your attention please? We want to start this on time. We only have one hour. Vice President Lu is already in her seat in Taipei and I think we should start.

I think you know the rules in terms of turning off all electronic devices. This is a video conference that brings in our Washington council office, as well as New York. We will have an opportunity, after some opening statement by the vice president, and after she and I have a brief dialogue, to have questions from the floor.

This is on-the-record and we do have journalists here. So I think we'll begin.

Vice President Lu, I hope you can hear me. We welcome you warmly to the Council on Foreign Relations. Six years ago we had a similar videoconference interview with President Chen Shui-bian. Last May, we were able to have an in-person interview with Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou of Taipei. We wish we could have you here in person, but diplomatic rules seem to preclude that, right or wrong, but we're using technology to overcome diplomatic obstacles.

We are concerned about the future of Taiwan, Taiwan-Mainland relations, U.S.-Taiwan-Mainland relations. Many of us still believe the so-called "Taiwan problem" is the most important problem facing American security, despite the tragedy of the Middle Eastern problems and despite our preoccupation with the North Korean nuclear crisis.

Unfortunately, our media don't give us much information recently about Taiwan. You can look in vain day after day in our newspapers, or watching TV, for word of what's taking place, even when several hundred thousand people demonstrate outside the government headquarters. So this is part of an effort to bring more light about Taiwan and to help our people understand Taiwan's leadership, and the various positions that leaders in Taiwan may take on very controversial questions.

We know you've spoken here before. We look forward very much to your opening remarks. Thank you for coming.

VICE PRESIDENT ANNETTE LU: Professor Cohen, distinguished guests of the Council on Foreign Relationships, good morning and greetings from Taiwan.

COHEN: We need to hear you better.

LU: (Cross talk) -- share my thoughts with all of you.

Special thanks to Professor Cohen, my Harvard Law School adviser, for this wonderful opportunity, and to you for your interest in Taiwan's future.

While some people may think about the presidential election in 2008, I would like to discuss with you where Taiwan is and where Taiwan is going. Right now Taiwan is at the historical crossroads because of three challenges facing us.

Number one, the rise of Taiwan's national identity. Two, the magnetic effect of China. And three, the acceleration of globalization.

First, after leaving the authoritarian past behind and embracing democracy at the end of the 20th century, Taiwan is developing a unique (sales hold ?), what we call in Taiwan -- (inaudible) -- broadly translated as "Taiwan Nationality."

A recent survey conducted by universities in Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong shows that 60 percent of people in Taiwan consider themselves Taiwanese, compared to only 18 in 1992. The result of the survey is not surprising, as more and more Taiwanese feel confident in Taiwan's achievements. At the same time, (recently ?) young people share the China experiences that had previously defined a generation of Chinese and Taiwan.

Taiwan's democracy has grown very fast and we enjoy a certain degree of freedom, as other developed democracies like the United States. The 2006 Freedom House survey gives Taiwan the highest scores in both civil liberties and political rights. At the same time, our democratic institution still suffers many legacies of the authoritarian era.

Taiwan, as a young democracy, is experiencing what I call the symptoms of a transitional democracy. The alleged misuse of state affairs funds covered by the press is one example of such transitional crisis facing Taiwan. However, through this crisis, our judicial independence and fairness have improved. More importantly, our people now expect and demand our -- more clearness and capability from politicians.

(Inaudible) -- institutional reforms are also needed to improve the transparency and effectiveness of our government. Thus, we must build our government based on the rule of law, and particularly on the sound constitution that was written for Taiwan in the 21st century.

The second challenge for Taiwan is the magnetic effect of China. As China makes impressive economic growth, it has also developed different phases of power described by Dr. Daniel Dempson (sp) as guns, money and ideas.

The rise of China has an even greater impact on Taiwan than the rest of the world. The cultural ties and close distance result in greater cross-straight exchanges and economical integration. To date, Taiwan's businesses have invested in China 71 of our total foreign investment. One million Taiwanese people have settled in China. And transportation routes between Taiwan and China are some of the busiest ones.

The Chinese government, however, has not given up the use of force against Taiwan. With 825 short and medium-grade missiles deployed against Taiwan, China continues to increase its military capacity and projection of forces in space, air and sea. China has stepped up the use of both intimidation and selection to undermine Taiwan in six different areas: military, economics, diplomacy, law, media and psychology.

China clearly recognizes Taiwan's strategic importance, as access to Taiwan is necessary for China to fully develop into a Pacific power. Today, new generations of Taiwanese are developing their own unique experiences of China, different from their elders. The leader on both sides of the Taiwan Straight should define cross straight relationships with new thought and new vision.

Taiwan and China are related ethnically and close neighbors geographically. There's no reason to resent or to fight against each other. Constructive engagement and normalization of cross-straight relationships should be based on the three C's. Namely cooperation, co-existence and co-prosperity.

Similarly, the international community should also re-examine the outdated and often misleading concept of the one China policy, given the fact that Taiwan and China have been separate and independent from each other. Only then can we find an effective solution to the cross-street disputes. When we examine Taiwan's history, we find that the fate of Taiwan is not decided by China. Rather, it is tied to the affairs of the world.

Looking from China's perspective, one may see the inevitable merge of Taiwan and China. Looking from a global vantage point, however, one will realize that Taiwan does not belong to China; rather, it belongs to the world.

This brings me to my third and last point: the acceleration of globalization. Globalization has not only facilitated the rise of China, it has also increased Taiwan's significance to the world. In recent years, we have seen the completion of Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world; the Snow Mountain Tunnel, the longest road tunnel in East Asia; and the completion of the Taiwan high-speed railway.

Taiwan's economical ranking continues to be among the highest in the world: in gross competitiveness, number six; global competitiveness, 13th; and economical freedom, 26th. Taiwan's technological index is even more impressive, ranking third globally. Taiwan's IT industry accounts for more than 60 percent of many major IT products in the world. And Taiwanese IT companies play an indispensable role in the global IT supply chain. That's why BusinessWeek described Taiwan as an invincible powerhouse of the global economy in a cover story called, "Why Taiwan Matters."

Despite the deliberate exclusion by China, Taiwan continues to engage the world. In the latest globalization index, Taiwan was ranked 12th in economic integration and 18th in technological connectivity. Taiwan is rising in a unique way. We have developed our own brand of (thought ?) power based on democracy, peace, love, human rights and technological progress.

In 2005, I founded the Democratic Pacific Union, an international organization of 28 democratic countries to promote democracy, peace and prosperity in the Pacific region. Within one year, DPU has held conferences in four countries outside of Taiwan. Just last month, the DPU launched the Pacific Congressional Caucus, with parliamentary members from 30 countries to promote democratic consolidation and better governance.

Many people have expressed their expectation to see China become a responsible stakeholder. Don't forget that Taiwan has been a model of global responsibility in its compliance of international norms and in its contribution toward many humanitarian projects. It's time to recognize Taiwan's contribution, to respect Taiwan's national dignity and to treat Taiwan as a responsible stakeholder.

Why Taiwan matters?

Taiwan matters because of its vital role in spreading democracy in East Asia. Taiwan matters because of its strategic importance to promote peace in the Pacific region. And Taiwan matters because of its indispensable position in the prosperity of global economy. What is Taiwan's future? Taiwan's future lies in the world rather than in China. Taiwan has embraced the world and the world should embrace Taiwan.

Thank you.

COHEN: Vice President Lu, thank you for a strong opening statement. In the United States, occasionally, politicians go from public office to prison. It's rare for them to go from prison to public office. Now in Taiwan you went from prison -- five years -- to public office. You mentioned the authoritarian regime in which you grew up and originally acted. You say there are some traces of that authoritarian regime even today in democratic Taiwan. Could you tell us what those remaining traces are? To what extent does Taiwan politics, society, economy, et cetera, still suffer from the authoritarian heritage?

LU: Well, Professor Cohen, I have been out of prison for 20 years, and I've been in present office for six years. However, we still suffer from the legacies of the authoritarian era. For example, government employees are not well educated with the concept of human rights. We have to maintain, to educate, to remind the government employee how to respect and protect the human right. And also there are so many laws and regulations enacted -- (inaudible) -- old regime. It takes time really to review and even to enact new laws and regulation.

COHEN: What about constitutional reform? As you well know, the authorities in Beijing have a great fear of constitutional reform in Taiwan because they're worried that might lead to a formal recognition or declaration of independence. What is your idea about constitutional reform? What kinds of reforms do you have in mind?

LU: Well, I would like to make a couple points. Number one, the contemporary constitution -- the ROC constitution -- was enacted in 1946, five years before Japan agreed to surrender their claim over Taiwan under San Francisco Treaty. The ROC constitution was implemented in Taiwan for 40 years. However, we suffer a lot because that constitution was absolutely unsuitable for modern Taiwan. For instance, our system is neither president system nor parliamentary one. The president is elected by the people. However, once he appointed premier, the executive power is vested upon the premier. The president can exercise only to the area of national defense and foreign affairs, making president very difficult really to govern the whole country. That's one example.

China is so big a country they have a number of level of government. However, Taiwan is very tiny so too many level of government really create unnecessary inconvenience for our government to operate. For the betterment of a new government, we really need a new constitution.

President Chen already made it clear: if ever we are going to have a new revision for a constitution, we are not going to deal with the most sensitive area including sovereignty, territory and the question of unification versus independence. Therefore, there's no need to worry about anything toward a so-called independence.

Taiwan has been independent with or without recognition. We already have the right to elect our national -- national leader entitled president in 1996. So it's no reason to change the independent sovereignty of Taiwan. We would carry out our reform carefully and cautiously. For the betterment of the governance and to conserve democracy, please trust that we will handle the issue carefully and responsibly.

COHEN: Is talk of constitutional reform realistic at all? Since Taiwan and its legislature seem so divided, how could you muster the necessary voting majority in order to enact constitutional reform of any kind?

LU: According to a constitutional amendment adopted last year, it really a matter of pragmatists -- very, very hard really to revise any single article of the constitution. Constitutional amendment cannot become a bill until proposed by one-fourth of a total number of legislators and approved by a three-quarters majority of a quorum, and of at least three-fourths of total number of legislators. Furthermore, half a year after promulgation, the constitution amendment proposed and approved by the legislature will be put to a referendum, which need the consent of more than half of the Taiwanese citizens eligibile to vote to pass.

In other words, it really takes a long time before we can have a new constitution. Because the pace is so long and so difficult, we need to start as early as possible for the study, for the -- (inaudible) -- and for the education. So please allow us to prepare for a new constitution for a better future -- not for the moment but for the near future.

COHEN: You have an election for the presidency coming up next year. You are one of the obvious candidates. If you run and if you should be elected, what specific policies would you pursue vis-a-vis mainland China? For example, would you try to establish the so-called three links of communication -- (audio difficulties) -- from the mainland to Taiwan? Would you take other specific measures? What could we look to you for in the way of new policies?

LU: I'm more than happy to respond to your questions related to China. It has nothing to do with whether I'm going to run for president or not. Currently I have been vice president for six years. I'm prepared to answer your question. The fact is that there's no problem of communication or correspondence between Taiwan and China. The only problems that -- (inaudible) -- transportation. In fact, we already opened our policy with regard to a charter flight when a special (vacation ?) like a new year or autumn festival for the convenience of oversea Taiwanese -- (inaudible) -- the direct of a private charter -- (inaudible) -- and for instance, we prepared 48 flight to pick up a Taiwanese (coming back ?) baker for its new year this time. So there isn't much problem at all with that regard.

COHEN: What about other forms of transportation and communication? Do you see any enhanced likelihood so that you can have people going from Dau Shung (ph) by ship as well as by plane over to Shanghai or other leading Chinese ports?

LU: Well, certainly we have to balance the interests between national security and the interest of the travelers. China being the only country which has hostility over Taiwan, the PRC authorities still refuse to declare to give up (military strength ?) over Taiwan, making Taiwan very difficult to allow direct unconditional flight from Taiwan to China or from China to Taiwan. Can you image a flight directly from Washington, D.C. to Pyangong? North Korea is hostile to U.S. Have you ever think a direct flight from North Korea to United States?

COHEN: Some of us, of course, have advocated three links to North Korea also, but unfortunately the current administration doesn't seem so disposed. What about your policies toward the United Nations, toward establishment of relations with the many countries and governments that no longer recognize the republic of China as the government of China? What kinds of steps do you advocate there? I know you've been very active in promoting not only contacts among the governments that maintain relations with Taiwan, but also creating NGO organizational contacts throughout the Pacific and elsewhere in order to maximize Taiwan's relationships. But what do you think should be done beyond the current situation?

LU: Well, being the one who started UMB (ph) for Taiwan, I am still convinced that sooner or later the United Nation would open a door to Taiwan. The fact is that Taiwan is the only nation on Earth that has not been admitted into U.N., not because we are not ineligible; rather because, unfortunately, PRC boycotted. If United Nation is really a United Nation -- international institution, they should have the door open to Taiwan as soon as possible.

The fact that Taiwan has been isolated from United Nation does not mean that Taiwan would give up our intention to participate into international community. Thanks to United States' support that Taiwan has become a member of WTO in 2002. We work closely and actively with the members -- or the members of WTO to contribute, and we are working as hard as possible to become a member of WHO, and we have confidence that sooner or later United States and many other countries' leader -- countries will support Taiwan. Despite that, we already started an organization entitled Democrat Pacific Union two years ago, and we work very aggressively to share the develop -- (inaudible) -- of Taiwan with the rest of the world, which I call soft power -- soft diplomacy.

COHEN: Are you open to new and creative ideas that might reach some useful compromise on Taiwan's representation in international organizations? Right now you're seeking a stark up or down admission of Taiwan into the U.N. But remember, the Soviet Union used to have several votes in the General Assembly. Would you be open to some kind of an arrangement whereby Taiwan was represented in the General Assembly but as part of a greater China?

LU: Well, I will remember that it took Korea 15 years to get admitted -- both North and South Korea -- into the United Nation. So I kept asking myself, if Korea could, why couldn't Taiwan? If China would allow both North and South Korea entrance into United Nations, why China can't allow Taiwan to be a part of the U.N.? China's leaders kept on telling us that Taiwanese and Chinese are sisters and brothers. If so, please show their sisterhood or brotherhood, please embrace Taiwan into international community.

COHEN: It's time now to allow our audiences in Washington and New York a chance to ask you questions and make brief comments. We're going to ask people here to wait for the microphone to come to you. Please stand and identify yourself in our usual fashion. Please ask only one concise question. The Vice President is doing an excellent job of giving us quick responsive answers so we can maximize our discussion. And I want to ask people in Washington after one question here in New York. Anyone want to lead off? Carl Minzner (sp). He needs a microphone.

QUESTIONER: Hello, Vice President Lu. My name is Carl Minzner. I'm a fellow here at the Council on Foreign Relations. I would just ask if mainland China was to engage at some point in the future in a process of political liberalization akin to what Taiwan went through in the 1970s, what role might you see for Taiwan in that process, and what role might you see for Taiwan in a politically more liberal China in the future? Thank you.

LU: -- (inaudible) --

COHEN: The question -- the question is what role might Taiwan play if China pursues a process of liberalization similar to the liberalization that Taiwan went through in the late '70s and 1980s.

LU: Well, Taiwan suffered a lot from hegemony -- I'm sorry, Taiwan suffered a lot from autocracy. Taiwanese people worked very hard to overcome all the repression. So whenever China is ready to install democracy, Taiwan's ready to share with our experiences.

For instance, one of the goals for Democratic Pacific Union is democracy. We're going to establish an institute for democracy. The electoral practice and regulation, for instance, we are very familiar with that and we welcome scholars and activities from China to come to Taiwan.

COHEN: Jackie Miller in Washington, do you have any questioners there?

JACKIE MILLER: Yes, Ambassador Bloch from -- (inaudible).

QUESTIONER: Madame Vice President, Julia Chang Bloch, president of the U.S.-China Education Trust. All your life, you have been an advocate for women's rights, and last year there was a time when you might have become president of Taiwan. I wonder whether you think Taiwan is ready for a woman president, for a female president? And if so, how would a woman president govern differently from a male president?

LU: Well, as early as the year 2000, Taiwan was ready to have the first woman to be elected as vice president. Six years have been passed. I'm sure that in the year 2008, Taiwanese are ready to have any capable person, man or woman, to be elected as their new national leader.

Taiwan is very open society, (begin to found our ?) women's movement as early as 1970. I'm very proud to see the progress that women have made, and I thanks to my male colleagues to support me for the liberation of women. It's time for the Taiwanese to make their decision, if there will be a capable and charismatic woman to run for president, whether Taiwan will accept this or not. And perhaps there will be more than one female candidate.

COHEN: We should take account of the fact Taiwan has a number of extremely able women in politics and, of course, the vice president first came to public attention in the 1970s as a result of a series of articles she did in the press about the need for equal treatment for women.

Another question here in New York? Yes, please.

QUESTIONER: Good morning, Madame Vice President. I wonder if this microphone is -- can you hear me? Because the other time you didn't hear. You can hear now, good.

My name is Professor Benjamin Barber from the University of Maryland, and I had the privilege just six weeks ago of coming to Taiwan National University and delivering the Shi Ming-te Lectures. Unfortunately, Shi Ming-te himself was not able to be there because, as you know, as one of the founders of the Democratic Progressive Party who also spent 25 years in prison during some of the same time you were in prison -- can you hear? Yes? -- he has now self-incarcerated himself, put himself in voluntary jail of his own making in protest against corruption by President Chen; at least that's what he alleges.

I wonder, in talking about human rights -- I know you've stood forcefully for human rights -- if you would like to comment on Shi Ming-te's protest against Mr. Chen and also whether you think he should be a nominee for the Nobel Prize, which he is being presented for right now. I would like very much, if you are able to make some comments, both about his charges of corruption against Mr. Chen, as somebody who is a former colleague of President Chen, but also about Shi Ming-te himself. Thank you.

MS. : Shi Ming-te?

QUESTIONER: Yeah.

LU: Shi Ming-te Ming used to be comrade to fight for human rights and justice. Before, when he demonstrated, he protested, he was arrested and was jailed for years. But when President Chen and me were elected into office, we tried our best to protect fundamental human rights of each citizen.

When he did the demonstration to protest against President Chen, we worked very hard not to infringe upon his right to assembly and to protest. We tried our best to protect him. We wish him the best even today.

COHEN: I take it you're not nominating him for the Nobel Prize. (Laughter.)

LU: Well, if I were a member of the nominating committee, I could answer this question. Unfortunately, I'm not a member of the committee, so rather make no comment.

COHEN: Liz Economy.

QUESTIONER: Madame Vice President, thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with us. My name is Elizabeth Economy. I'm a senior fellow here at the Council on Foreign Relations.

You mentioned in your remarks the security of Taiwan and the challenge that the mainland poses to the security. One of the issues over the past six years in the U.S. relationship with Taiwan has clearly been this issue of the defense of Taiwan, the issue of the arms purchases agreement that has yet to make its way through the Taiwanese legislature.

Could you talk a little bit about how you see Taiwan's commitment to its own defense and what it needs, perhaps, to change in order to protect itself more effectively in the future?

LU: In the year 2000, for the first time ever, Taiwan had a transfer of government and power. Unfortunately for those who lost their power, for those who used to be in power for decades, after then they lost their power they couldn't adjust to it, so they try to boycott all the bills presented in the congress, including military budget. President Chen and me and the premier worked very hard to see that national defense projects can be passed as quick as possible.

Unfortunately, in the past years, we failed. We still (attack ?) because in these couple days, the congress is having their final (race ?) of this session. We have reason to expect that opposition members of congress, under the command of Chairman Mao -- Ma Ying-jeou -- (laughter) -- would give us support because national security is a matter bipartisan. So we can still hope that Professor Cohen might do something -- (light laughter) -- to convince Chairman Ma Ying-jeou to give the national security support.

Thank you.

COHEN: I'll do my best.

What about questions in Washington? Jackie, you have another question down there?

MS. MILLER: Yeah, we do.

Richard?

QUESTIONER: Madame Vice President, it's Richard Bush of the Brookings Institution. It's nice to see you again. I'm glad to see you haven't lost --

LU: Hi.

QUESTIONER: -- glad to see you haven't lost your sense of humor.

LU: Thank you.

QUESTIONER: Taiwan will have two important elections within the next 14 months, both for the legislative Yuan and for the president. I wonder if you could make a prediction what will be the DPP's major campaign theme for these elections, and what do you predict will be the Kuomintang's major campaign theme for these elections?

LU: Well, I'm not a fortune-teller. I cannot predict.

This time will be most difficult because we're going to have a totally new system for congressional elections. So all the candidates are -- are not that confident. However, we try to have the -- (inaudible) -- as fair as possible, so we'll wait and see. And even the decision regarding whether we should have the congressional election and presidential election to be implemented together, there is a debate. Some are in favor of having two into one, to save money and also for better reform of elections. However, there are some other people who would rather to hold these two elections separately.

So everything is open for discussion. It will take perhaps one or two months before the decision is made. Maybe after that I can have a better prediction.

QUESTIONER: Okay, thank you.

COHEN: Yes. Herbert Levin (sp).

QUESTIONER: Madame Vice President, thank you for your presentation.

You have pointed out that Taiwan's investment in the mainland is usually top and that many Taiwanese have chosen to move to the mainland and live there for extended periods. We read in the newspaper of the Buddhist ties and the (Muslim ?) ties, religious ties building up, and you have -- it has been suggested that the if the Yuan doesn't vote money for more arms purchases, they don't seem to be afraid of an attack on Taiwan. The Kuomintang leaders have been to the mainland for discussions.

It seems that everybody in Taiwan wants to work out a peaceful relationship with the mainland, which is not easy, but the DPP is rather stagnant. Do you think the DPP is likely to become more flexible in the future on this question?

LU: Well, China and Taiwan's economic linkage is eternally close. China now is Taiwan's number one export destination, the largest source of Taiwan's trade surplus. Taiwan's foreign -- Taiwan's investment in China occupied 71 percent of total foreign investment last year, so I don't think it's fair to criticize that DPP's government is closed-door policy.

QUESTIONER: When you say --

LU: From 1991 to November 2006, the total amount of Taiwan's business investment in China is (33 ?) points of beating U.S. dollar. And the travelers is up to 423 million, and we have over a million Taiwanese settled in China already. However, because the Chinese authority still refuses to give up their military threat over Taiwan, making Taiwan's national security number one concern of the country.

We have to take care of the security of the citizens and the country. We have to help maintain the stability of this region. Unless China openly gives up their military threat over Taiwan, unless China respects the sovereignty of Taiwan, we have to have our policy reserved to a certain degree. However, Taiwanese people enjoy their freedom to travel, to invest, to do business in China and to the rest of the world.

COHEN: Other questions in New York?

Yes, in the back. Please.

QUESTIONER: Thank you, Professor.

Madame Vice President, this is Peter Wei from the Epoch Times.

My question is, since about two years ago the publishing of the -- (inaudible) -- commentary on the the Communist Party by the Epoch Times, they were helping 18 million Chinese people who were associated with the Chinese Communist Party or the Chinese -- (inaudible) -- announce their withdrawal. There are more people coming to join.

So what do you think this would mean for the future of Taiwan and the people in China and the cross-strait relationship? Thank you.

LU: As I raised earlier in my opening remark, I propose three Cs for the normalization between Taiwan and China -- namely, peaceful coexistence, cooperation and (co- ?)prosperity.

We welcome the development economically and politically on mainland China. And it's only democracy is installed in China that peace and stability in this region can be assured. Let's walk closer toward that goal.

COHEN: Have you personally been to China mainland?

LU: Yes. In 1990, I was invited by Overseas Taiwanese Association from China to visit China. They (kindly ?) entertained me for one month. By then I was nobody, but the next year I was allowed to run for the congress and got elected.

Based on my experiences of 1990, I tried to develop the relationship between Taiwan and China but failed, because when I started to promote U.N. bid for Taiwan, my name was blacklist, and ever since then I was not allowed to visit China anymore.

I certainly expect that the door will open again, not only for me but also for President Chen. President Chen, ever since he took office, reiterates his goodwill to start a new relationship with China. Any kind of dialogue, any kind of meeting, is welcome.

COHEN: What about Washington? Any questions down there?

MS. MILLER: Yes.

Tom, do you want to?

QUESTIONER: Madame Vice President, Tom Williams with the Department of the Navy.

Throughout 2006, there were several initiatives to promote maritime security cooperation between the Pacific Command and mainland China. Could you speak to the political implications on Taiwan to those efforts?

LU: Despite the distance between Taiwan and China is so close, unfortunately the right of transportation at sea is still not available because China is not ready to negotiate with us for business.

And number two, in the past years so frequently we see pirate activities. We see smuggling of drugs and crimes and female prostitutes. That's why we really urge a direct official meeting with Chinese authority for all these matters related toward the well-being of people on both sides.

COHEN: But what is your reaction to U.S. military naval cooperation with China in joint exercises and similar activities? Do you favor closer contacts between the U.S. military establishment and the mainland, or do you think that's a bad idea?

LU: Any method of modernization and liberation of military is welcome, is comfortable for the stability of this region. We also expect that the military relationships between Washington, D.C. and Taipei can also be increased.

In the recent years we are happy to see that considerable high-ranking of our military officials are allowed to attend military meetings with U.S. military officials. But if a certain kind of military confidence mechanism can be built not only in between Washington, D.C. and Taipei, but in between Taipei and Beijing, that will be very good message for peace in this area.

COHEN: New York, questions?

Yes, Nick Platt.

QUESTIONER: Nick Platt, president emeritus, Asia Society.

I'd like to ask a question about future generations, Madame Vice President. When I was in Taiwan last year, I had a number of conversations with younger politicians from both parties. One of the consensus attitudes that I found was the ideal for the next generation. They all said, "What we want are three things: an American education, a job in the mainland and a home in Taiwan."

Could you comment on that and whether that concept is something that you are fully aware of in the people who are going to succeed you?

LU: A job in United States?

QUESTIONER: A job in the mainland.

LU: I understand, yeah. A job in the United States --

QUESTIONER: No, a job in China.

LU: -- a home in Taiwan --

MR. : Education --

LU: Oh, education in America, a job in mainland China and a home in Taiwan. How about a wife, from where? (Laughter.) Well, I'm glad to hear about that. (Inaudible) -- that the university is going to be accomplished.

First -- (inaudible) -- in -- (inaudible) -- human rights, democracy, peace, love, and technological progress is perhaps not -- (inaudible) -- that people and people can work together across the border of territory to achieve that common goal. If one can have good education in the United States, why can't he have such education in Taiwan and in the rest of the world as well? So in the trend of globalization, we show also concern about the equal opportunity, the equal development on Earth. I would suggest that attention shall be paid more to the underdeveloped countries, to the poor family and to the minority people.

COHEN: How about Washington questions.

MS. MILLER: Does anyone have -- we don't have anything right now, but check back.

COHEN: New York? Yes, Maggie Lewis, NYU.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Maggie Lewis from NYU.

As a young China scholar, I, like many people in my age group, studied in the mainland, although I have a recently spent time in Taiwan, and it was an honor to meet you when I was there. But I'm seeing a decreasing number of people who are studying in Taiwan as they become China scholars. And I was wondering, what is the Taiwanese government doing to encourage academic and cultural ties with the U.S. and other countries?

LU: Well, economic exchange certainly is the best access for the university. Economic -- education is a platform for a change of values, thinking and culture.

Our government always welcomes the good student, the best scholar to come to Taiwan. In fact, our Ministry of Education has a considerable amount of grant open for the application of those who are interested in studying in Taiwan.

The DPU -- Democratic Pacific Union, founded two years ago -- also over 50 fellowships and another 50 scholarships to study in Taiwan. To conclude, we really respect knowledge, and we consult a lot and we are ready to support those who are interest in economic exchange. Please come to Taiwan.

COHEN: Well, I hope you will do more in that regard. But I also hope, as you know, your government will do more to let people in the outer world understand how much progress Taiwan has made with respect to rule-of-law development.

In the '60s and '70s we used to listen to this nonsense from the Chiang Kai-shek government about how Taiwan represented free China when it wasn't free at all, of course, as you experienced. And I'd like to see your government do more along those lines so the rest of us would know about recent accomplishments.

Yes?

QUESTIONER: Nicholas Bratt --

COHEN: You need a mike. Yeah.

QUESTIONER: Nicholas Bratt, Lazard.

Madame Vice President, in view of the nuclear developments in North Korea, how tempted are you to develop some nuclear capability of your own for protective reasons?

LU: With the advanced technology, Taiwan is capable to develop nuclear. However, Taiwanese people are most peace-loving people on Earth. From government point of view, from people's point of view, in fact, we never have any idea to develop nuclear because our philosophy is constructive, not destructive.

COHEN: What about corruption? You have a very serious corruption problem -- not really in your judiciary or in your prosecutor's office, as we've recently seen; they're quite independent -- but in your legislature, your local elections, your political system seems to be still shot full of corruption. And we thought the DPP might be more successful than it appears to have been in rooting out corruption. What policies do you favor?

LU: Well, Taiwan is a young, emerging democracy. We are not perfect. We are not mature yet. We make mistake and we try to learn and grow from the mistakes. There are a limited number of politicians who made mistake in recent events. They have been condemned. And our judicial power has exercised in the very impartial way. And we expect the judicial independence and fairness can prove that our democracy has been consolidate.

As I made remark earlier that because of this corruption crisis, people learn and people expect from our politicians more cleanness and more -- (inaudible). That's the price we pay. And also the nation that our democracy -- (inaudible) -- to Taiwan because Taiwan -- Taiwanese people pay a remarkable price to achieve democracy. We cherish -- we cherish -- and we are not going to let democracy spoil.

COHEN: Last question. Herb Levin.

QUESTIONER: Madame Vice President, in the U.S. there's been considerable favorable publicity for the reopening of the Gugen Bogwan (ph) in Why-Shong-Shi (ph), and that a thousand visas will be given to tourists from the mainland. I wonder whether Taiwan will be changing its policy to allow tourism from the mainland and even allow investment -- in other words, something like China's policy toward Taiwan.

Thank you.

LU: Yes, our government is ready to welcome more tourists from mainland China to Taiwan. But up to today, we haven't achieved an official agreement with China authority for the -- (inaudible) -- related because it takes -- really, it takes a big job, really, to take good care of all the travelers to Taiwan.

In the past, there are some tourists who come to Taiwan, but illegally, so making some traffic problems and also crimes. So we welcome an official direct discussion and agreement to be entered into, and we are prepared to welcome Chinese tourists to come.

COHEN: I want to thank you, Vice President Lu, for an excellent presentation. I think all of us have a better feel for your current views and we see you also as a person. We like your sense of humor, and we hope you will be able to come here in person in whatever capacity you might enjoy in the future. Thanks very much for helping us out. (Applause.)

LU: Thank you, Professor Cohen. I will remember in the year of 1985 when I have lived -- (inaudible) -- you helped me a lot. Will you please help me again? Ever since I took office I was told that from now on it's too sensitive for you to visit our country, making me another kind of prisoner.

Perhaps I would like to take this opportunity to urge all the esteemed guests who attended this meeting to help President Chen and me and all high-ranking officials from Taiwan to have the honor to visit Washington, D.C. It's a pity, because Taiwan and China are so -- excuse me, Taiwan and the United States are so close to each other, however the high-ranking officials are not allowed to see and to discuss issues related in person. I really would like to take this opportunity to urge a review of this policy.

Thank you.

COHEN: Well, as you know, a favorite song in the mainland and Taiwan is "Tomorrow will be even better." Thank you very much.

LU: Thank you. (Applause.)

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