«Unlimited Chinese expansionism»
Foreign Minister of Taiwan, Jaushieh Joseph Wu, speaks about: The status of Taiwan, relations with China, the rising tension in the South China Sea, US-sanctions against China, Peking’s actions to sideline Taiwan from the International Community and the upcoming referendum in Taiwan on November 24th.
The interview took place on November 13th 2018 in Taipei. Present at the meeting was an International Press Group who was invited by the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The representative for DIE WELTWOCHE was Urs Gehriger, Foreign Editor.
Reporter: When Donald Trump became US-President, one of the first calls he took was from your President Tsai Ing-wei. How was the reaction from China officially and unofficially to this call?
Minister: I was in the process of the planning of that call. When it took place, I remember that the people here in Taiwan seems to be quite excited about it, because that's the first time the President of Taiwan was able to speak with President-Elect of the United States. I can also sense that the policy community in Washington D.C. is also excited, excited in the sense that they reacted in different ways. Some of those in the policy community in Washington DC know that that is a groundbreaking, that was wonderful, and therefore, Taiwan-US relationship be better after Donald Trump took office. At the same time, some other thinktankers in the Washington DC also thought that that might set-off the Trump administration on the wrong foot, but no matter what, it caught the media, all media, international media, for some time. For at least three weeks, people were discussing about Taiwan. People were discussing what kind of relationship was there in between Taiwan and the United States.
On the other hand, Taiwan is a democracy. The President of Taiwan was democratically elected, and therefore Taiwan is a country that should be respected as such. Taiwan should be treated as like-minded countries. At the same time, some people thought that the relations with China should also be very important and therefore China might react in a wrong way. There was a debate in Washington DC. From what we see from the Chinese side, the reaction was rather calm at that moment. We did not see the officials from Beijing react in a way that we should be overly concerned about Taiwan-US relations or China relations.
Quietly we also sense that there are some people in Beijing, especially in the passive community in Beijing, they feel nervous about what is going to take place in between Taiwan and the United States. Whether president-elect, Trump is going to review the underlying principles in between Washington DC and Beijing, whether president-elect, Trump is going to follow the white-handed policy as his predecessors have been following. After some uncertainties in between Washington DC and Beijing, we thought that things tend to be stabilized after president Trump gave that interview and said that the United States will follow, in his words, "Our one-China policy."
… Some of the policies that are being pursued by president Trump sometimes surprise quite a lot of people in Beijing. For instance, in the beginning of the Trump administration, president Trump and his teams talked about China's unfair trade practices and criticized China for other things, but in April, late April, last year when president Trump and Xi Jinping met in Mar-a-Lago, president Trump started to say very nice things about president Xi Jinping. Saying that he's good friends, he's doing wonderful things for Chinese people, he's a great leader and all that. It seems to be taking a different turn.
Nevertheless, when the United States issued international security strategy, initial defense strategy, and free opening of specific strategy, we started to see that the United States is taking a harsher attitude toward Beijing. We see several ways of changes of the US policy toward China. Taiwan on its part has been quite steady, its handling of the basic policy either toward the United States or toward China. Our policy is to maintain status quo. Our policy is to maintain peace and stability in between Taiwan and China. Our policy has been to maintain sufficient defense capabilities, and other than that we also try to improve our relations with the United States. These things have been there for quite some time and it's not going to change because of the Trump administration. What we see is some waves of changes of the US policy toward China. I guess this is a little history, review of what happened after president Trump came into office.
Reporter: Recently the Vatican and the Chinese government had an agreement about the appointment of bishops, but we know that it is probably just a first step in a long process. What is the attitude of Taiwan towards this approach made on behalf of the Vatican towards China?
Minister: When Vatican was about to sign the agreement with China, we have stayed in very close contact with the officials in the Holy City. The officials in the Holy City continued to assure us that the agreement is about the appointment of bishops is religious, is pastoral, and it's not political or diplomatic. China's relations, official relations, with the Vatican is not going to be affected by that agreement. [unintelligible] said the Vatican is being a quiet friend and very honest in letting us know what was happening and that was appreciated. Of course, what we see in the agreement is the possibility of improving the welfare and the rights of the capitalists in China. That is what a lot of countries want as well in that agreement.
Nevertheless, we care so much about the rights of the Catholics in China. In the past couple of years, we see the rights of the Catholics in China having deteriorating and in the recent months, the situation is still getting worse and worse. We see more crosses being burnt, more churches being torn down, and bishops, especially those underground bishops or the bishops that are recognized by the Vatican, have suffered from political persecution. That is something that we hope we can continue to work with the Holy City and the rest of the free world to see how we can turn things around and to make sure that the Catholics in China can have their rights protected.
In addition to the rights of the Catholics, we also see the persecution of the Muslims in the Xinjiang area and also the Buddhists in the Tibet area. That is something that we don't want to see. If the Catholics in Taiwan can have their rights protected, I think the kinds of rights, the same rights that Taiwan people enjoy should also be enjoyed by the Chinese Catholics. That's what we want.
We also try to work with the Vatican to advance human rights or the welfare of the regular people or disadvantaged people. We try to work with the Vatican in the sense that we try to provide some humanitarian assistance, work together with the Vatican to provide those assistance to the disadvantaged people and we'll continue to do that. The Vatican also openly recognize Taiwan's role in that regard. That is what we have been doing and we'll continue to do it.
So far, as I can see, our relations with the Vatican is not changing. Our relations with the Vatican is still relatively stable and we will continue to maintain our relations with the Vatican. Also, that agreement is temporary or provisional, it's good for two years. With the way the Chinese not honoring the rights of the Catholics in China, I don't know whether the Vatican will continue to see the advancement of the discussions is in the interest of the Catholics in China.
Reporter: It was customary that the World Health Organization invite Taiwan to the annual meeting. This year, they chose not to invite Taiwan to the annual meeting.
Minister: For the second year.
Reporter: Do you believe that the UN has taken a position of partiality or no longer impartial when it comes to identifying a country's sovereignty, independence? Do you see the UN as a reliable source or partner in this process?
Minister: Well, thank you very much for the question. That is a very important question for Taiwanese people. We continue to ask that question ourselves when we see the Charter of the WHO, the highest attainable health for all, and how about the people of Taiwan? If you look at the UN Charter, that means peace and stability for all, how about the people of Taiwan? Taiwan is being excluded from the UN systems for quite some time, but when the Taiwanese people raised their voice and said that, "We have the same rights, as other people." The UN turned its back on us. There are two things we can say about this issue. One, is of course the wrangling between Taiwan and China, but another is the very successful maneuver of the Chinese in penetrating into international organizations.
Look at the WHO, they used to be able to have a Hong Kong director general, but after the Hong Kong Director General Margaret Chan retired, they weren't able to support the current director general, and the current director general seems to be taking advice from the Chinese government. Look at ICAO, the Chinese government was also able to send a senior official to serve as a president of ICAO, International Civil Aviation Organization. Look at Interpol, the one who just fled back to or went back to China and disappeared, he was also a senior official, sitting senior official of China. If you look at the UN Secretariat, there's also a Chinese senior official inside the secretariat, and that is very successful maneuver of the Chinese government. They were able to send senior officials into virtually every important major international organizations, and one of their functions is to prevent Taiwan from being able to take part.
I think this is morally unjust to exclude Taiwan. That is a violation of the Charters of the UN or the affiliated organizations. I think we can run a whole bunch of numbers for you, but I think the logic is the same. If we want a safer world, no country should be excluded, but look at the situation of Taiwan. There's so many millions of lives going through Taiwan's airspace every year, but Taiwan is excluded from taking part in International Civil Aviation Organization. There are criminals coming in and going out, but Taiwan is excluded from taking part in the Interpol. Taiwan is also not immune from communicable diseases, but Taiwan has been excluded from WHO. None of these make sense, and none of these stands moral.
Therefore it is the right thing for Taiwan people continue to say that we deserve the right to participate in these international organizations just as any other people in the world. At the same time we also have to see the way the Chinese were able to turn these international organizations against Taiwan. When we were trying to make applications, the Chinese were able to make sure that the motions would not be accepted by the secretariat, because the Chinese always had senior officials in these secretariats. The Chinese officials in these international organizations were also able to deny the regular Taiwanese people only trying to have a pass to enter into these buildings and that's just not fair. I certainly hope that the international community can look at this issue as a fundamental issue, that no country should be excluded.
Coming back to the issue between Taiwan and China, China says that Taiwan is part of China and therefore our participation should go through China, but you are here in Taiwan, we have a president. The president is publicly elected, what are you going to call us? We also have a parliament. I don't like our parliament, they're powerful but it's also publicly elected. We have a MOFA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We issue visa and passport which is different from the Chinese. We also have a military that is capable of defending ourselves. We also have a currency, when you come to Taiwan you say NT dollars not [unintelligible] Therefore Taiwan is not part of the PRC.
The Chinese argument that Taiwan is part of the PRC and we need to go through the PRC to make applications into these international organizations just don't match with reality. We hope that the international community, the like-minded countries, whether they're from Europe, or from the United States, or from East Asia, I think should come to the reality that Taiwan should be represented at the international community.
Reporter: Can you rely on your partner countries to defend and hold UN accountable?
Minister: If Taiwan only relies on our diplomatic allies, that means those countries in Latin America and also in the Pacific. I think it's going to be very difficult because the number of our diplomatic allies is only 17 of them and it's not strong enough to stand bold in these international organizations. What we can count on is improving relations between Taiwan and the like-minded countries.
Look at the past few years, the United States, some European countries, Australia, Japan, Canada, have been coming out stronger and stronger in support of Taiwan's international participation. Look at WHO, as you mentioned a little earlier, we have the United States, some Asia and European countries, Canada, Australia, and Japan, came out and said that WHO should accept Taiwan. We need more of those countries, we hope all like-minded countries, that fellow democracies can come out and say that Taiwan deserves its rights in these major international organizations.
Reporter: In the beginning of October, there was a near collision between United States guided missile cruise ship and Chinese guided missile cruise ship. Then we had after that American warships passing the strait of Taiwan which was, if I'm right, the first time again that this kind of warships passed the strait in 22 years. …What to do when a real conflict would erupt? Is that also applying to Taiwan? Is it now the time to apply a red line? To take a stronger stand with the United States? How can Taiwan deal with these kinds of situations?
Minister: You mean protest to the United States for sending ships through Taiwan space?
Reporter: Well, it might be that-- I'm sure that Taiwan could say like, "Please don't. This freedom of navigation operations, as they call it, are endangering the position of Taiwan." That might be a position, but also be they could say, "When there would be conflict, we need to side immediately with the United States." If you're talking about red lines, do they also apply for Taiwan? In what kind of settings, is it endangering Taiwan?
Minister: We are in a different situation. If you look at the threat posed by China against Taiwan, the US action very often seems to be a posture of supporting Taiwan, so it's going to be very hard for the people here to imagine that the government of Taiwan can raise it to the United States that your ships passing through this area is a red line. We stay in very close contact with United States on security issues or other matters. When the US was having its naval ships passing through Taiwan Strait it was been seeing as a routine passage through international water, and the United States has been doing that regularly, and for your information is not the first time in the 17-18 years they've been doing it regularly
Reporter: With these kinds of ships?
Minister: With destroyers or cruise ships. So, it's not surprising to us since it’s international waters and therefore the United States has the right to free passage through the international water.
Let me also take the question or take the issue about South China Sea. I think it's something that warrants more discussion. The way I see it is that the tension in the South China Sea has being going up to the degree where a lot of people should worry. If you look at The South China Sea that is contested by quite a few countries surrounding the South China Sea, by China, by Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and also Malaysia. For China to claim the whole body of water might not be the best way.
If you look at the ruling by the court of international arbitration on July 12th 2016, that kind of position has been ruled not in line with international law. The Chinese militarization or land reclamation of a small island into major territory in the South China Sea, and also to build those reclaimed land into military bases seem to be against international law, and especially against international arbitration results in July 2016. I think the Chinese action of land reclamation is getting other claimants very nervous. Other than land reclamation and militarization of the Island controlled by China, China is also sending its military aircraft and naval ships to patrol around the region. From the data that I see, is in average more than 10 military airplanes every day, and more than 20 military ships every day. Other than the military ships they also have coast guards, and also the armed civilian ships to patrol around region. The way they patrol around it is as if China owns the South China Sea. Of course, you can see that the tension will continue to rise.
The United States is sending its naval ships to patrol around region in the name of freedom of navigation operations, and it is not just the United States who is doing, it it's also France and the UK, Australia and Japan. These actions are welcomed by other claimants in the region for the reason to make sure that that place is known to be contested rather than owned by China. We'll continue to see the tension rising with or without the US freedom of navigation operations. I think when the ships are coming close to each other at the high sea normally there's a code it's called CUES, code for unexpected encounters at seas, and I think the countries should follow CUES when they encounter with each other. A near collision is just dangerous and a little accident might sparkle into a major war, which should be avoided.
Reporter: These were not two little ships, they had 280 people on board each. That's quite a conflict we have.
Minister: That's right. If I take the issue a little bit further. If you look at the Chinese actions in this part of the world. They're not only trying to militarize the South China sea, they tried not only to claim the area or patrol the area as if it's owned by China, they also sent their military ships, reconnaissance airplanes into the airspace claimed by South Korea and Japan. As far as I can see, the East China Sea is also highly contested and the tension is also visible. In all this East Asia to South China Sea we can see the tension over there seems to be caused by the unlimited Chinese expansionism. That is something that the like-minded countries should look at it in a very serious way, because of that, as I said a little earlier the freedom of mitigation operations by the United States or by some European countries or by Japan or Australia, should be seen as a sign of the like-minded countries, should try to maintain that international waters should be safeguarded as international waters.
Reporter: We just heard there is billions of investments by your business community in China, which is obviously beneficial for both sides, otherwise this wouldn't happen. China is a huge market for Taiwanese products as well. I'm wondering how do you deal with that?
Minister: It's not easy. It's very hard. Talking about the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not accepted by the Chinese side, it's not just the Chinese side who don't accept that. The Chinese were able to get other countries, even other like-minded countries not to recognize Taiwan's minister of foreign affairs. The sad thing about Taiwan, especially coming from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that Taiwan is being recognized as a democracy. Taiwan is being praised as a beacon, as a light of hope in this part of the world. Nevertheless, the minister of Foreign Affairs has difficulties in travel. I cannot go to Washington DC. I cannot go to London. I cannot go to Tokyo. I think Taiwanese people have been quite pragmatic in dealing with that. If the minister is not able to go, how about the deputy minister, or other officials. We try to deal with the situation in a more practical way.
Taiwan is also an enviable economy, many countries in the world also need to deal with Taiwan in the pragmatic way. No matter where you're from virtually every major country has an office here in Taiwan. For the United States they have an AIT over here. AIT is functioning as an embassy. AIT officials, they call on me quite often, and they recognize me as a minister of Foreign Affairs except that I'm not able to travel to Washington DC freely. This is a practical way we try to deal with the limitations.
When it comes to the relations between Taiwan and China the things get even more complicated. The Chinese are trying to destroy the symbol of sovereignty of Taiwan, and the ministry of Foreign Affairs represent one trait of the sovereignties of Taiwan. Therefore, China always tries to destroy that symbol of sovereignty by luring or disconnecting our diplomatic allies, try to get our diplomatic allies to server diplomatic ties with Taiwan. They try to prevent Taiwan from taking part in international organizations. They try to mutilate the name of Taiwan in participating in international activities. They try to change the designation of Taiwan in multinational corporations.
When it comes to allies, I think you are quite familiar with many of international allies. Originally, they described Taiwan as “Taiwan”, but then under the pressure of China, they started changing their way of describing Taiwan into “Taiwan, China” or “Taipei, China”, “Taiwan, province of China”. That is the fact that we have to deal with. Whenever China does that, we try very hard to change it back to something that the people here in Taiwan can accept, but it’s not a success every time we try to change back to Taiwan.
The situation is rather difficult for us with the Chinese power rising, it is easier for China to do that sort of thing to Taiwan and it gets more difficult for us to reverse the way the Chinese are doing it to Taiwan. Nevertheless, what we should say is that the Chinese government continues to have that objective of winning the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese people. But when they do that to Taiwan, excluding Taiwan from international organizations or changing Taiwan's designation in international businesses or kicking Taiwan out of the International participation, they are creating enemies in Taiwan. I can tell you it's not in line with the Chinese objectives.
Reporter: I'm particularly interested in the nuts and bolts of when you want to communicate with Taipei. What do you do? Whom do you call? Which channels are you using? Business people, second track. There must be communication. I'm wondering how does it work?
Minister: We have more than one million people living in China and mostly in the greater Shanghai area. We also have scholars and students and tourists coming back and forth. The Chinese also continue the same, their scholars, tourists to Taiwan and many of their scholars are very well connected, or even sponsored by their government. If Beijing wants to talk to us, they can always find a way to talk to us and if we want to talk to them, we can always find a way to talk to them.
Reporter: Regarding this aggressive policy against Taiwan, China is developing here in Taiwan an independence feeling within the population. On September the 20th there was a demonstration for independence in Taiwan. It seems to me that dialogue (between China and Taiwan) is not possible right now.
Minister: Again, that is a very important question and as you can see, Taiwan government is under the pressure from both hands. On one hand the Chinese government wants to pressure Taiwan into unification talks but on the other hand, there were also a large number of Taiwanese people who want to dissociate Taiwan from China.
Under these kinds of circumstances, the Taiwanese government needs to think about the most responsible way in dealing with the cross rate relationship. After a very careful deliberation, the president of Taiwan is set out the cross rate policy based on the inaugural address. I think the basic policy is to maintain the status quo and to maintain cross rate peace and stability. That has been our policy and we think that is the most responsible policy in dealing with the cross rate situation.
Unification is not an option of the Taiwanese people as we see from various public opinion surveys. There's only a very small number of people here in Taiwan who wants unification with China but pursuing Taiwan's independence. If you look at the reality of Taiwan, as I said a little bit earlier, we have a President, and Parliament, and money, and the military, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issuing visa and passport. Taiwan is already being a de facto independent. Therefore, if we are able to maintain the status quo, I think Taiwan is in the best position.
Internationally, the palsy of maintaining the cease core or maintaining peace and stability has been praised by the like-minded countries such as the United States, or Japan, or other like-minded countries. They think that Taiwan government is pursuing a very responsible policy toward China. Therefore, there's no need for us to change our policy at this moment even though our policy will continue to be challenged by both ends.
Reporter: A new referendum coming up soon on November 24th. One of the issues is that Taiwan will go to the Olympics in 2020 officially under the name Taiwan. Doesn't this interfere with the position of maintaining status quo?
Minister: Yes. Well, there are two things involved in this referendum or involved in the particular referendum issue. The first is Taiwan is a democracy and doing the referendum under the law is the rights of the people. Therefore, the government is bound by the results of the referendum. If the referendum passed, Taiwan government, as required by law, will need to speak with the CTOC, which is Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, to notify them and consult with them to see what they can do.
The second part of that issue is the status of the CTOC, the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee. According to the International Olympic Charter, all the national Olympic committees are supposed to be independent and autonomous. Therefore, CTOC, according to a charter of the IOC, will have to maintain its independence and autonomy. I think that's the situation. Even when there's a referendum passed by the public, the CTOC would not be required by the government over here or by the results of the referendum to apply for the change of Taiwan's title participating in the Tokyo Olympics.
Even those people who raised the issue understand that though. It's not going to have the results under CTOC to make a change of Taiwan's name. In the CTOC Charter, and also in 1981 Agreement reached in between CTOC and the International Olympic Committee, Taiwan participate independently under the name Chinese Taipei. I think that agreement is going to stick. It's a very complicated issue. Hopefully, we can try to grab the essence of the situation. Yes? I'm sorry to keep you waiting.
Reporter: What is the Taiwanese opinion or position on a trade war between the PRC and the United States. Taiwan has companies and business in the Mainland. Is it going to affect the Taiwanese economy? Or have you benefit from this?
Minister: The United States has already had several waves of sanctions against China. From the US sanctions, there were several things we have been watching very carefully. One is the conditions raised by the United States. China has to change its trade practices, stop the IPR theft, stop the forceful technology transfer and stop the cyber theft of other countries, things like that.
When we look at those conditions demanded by the United States, we think that those are the traditions all the normal trading countries should follow. Those are the rules of the WTO and those are the rules of modern civilized trading partner. Therefore to us, we have no disagreement with the United States when the United States raise that voice of asking China to change its predatory trade practices. I think those principles have also been agreed upon by other major trading power of the world.
Nevertheless, China is such a big economy these days, and therefore any kind of impact on China is going to impact the rest of the world as well and Taiwan is no exception. When the United States raise those several waves of sanctions, we're observing very carefully the way the Taiwan's economy is affected but so far it doesn't impact upon Taiwan. Some minor cases would implicate Taiwan. For example, when the United States was having sanctions against the steel and aluminum made in China.
Taiwan was also put on the list of being on sanctions and we are not able to get out of that sanction to be put on the waiver. We were affected in that part but other than that Taiwan's economy doesn't seem to be affected so far. Nevertheless, if the United States continue to sanction against China and with the last batch announced by President Trump that if China doesn't change its trade projects and practices is going to apply more taxes the last $267 billion.
That will definitely affect Taiwan because in that last batch is going to be on ICT and Taiwan's primary investment or the main part of Taiwan's investment in China is ICT. If that sanction is applied, then Taiwan will definitely be affected in a very serious manner. We have been watching very carefully. This is the negative effects of the trade war. However, we are also observing how the Taiwanese investors in China or the American investors in China are reacting to President Trump's trade policies.
Some of them want to move back to the United States and set up their manufacturing in the United States and some are moving out to other countries in Southeast Asia or in India for their operations. For some Taiwanese businessmen, they might migrate together with the American funds, some to the United States, some to Southeast Asia or India and some would even want to come back to Taiwan. We are observing very carefully what is going to develop from now.
We try to prepare ourselves if some of the corporations are willing to come back to Taiwan. For example, whether they are able to get sufficient amount of land, whether they will be able to have skilled labors, whether we will be able to deal with some of the tax issues that they care about. These are being under the discussion in our cabinet. Some Taiwanese businessmen, care about a sufficient supply of water, sufficient supply of electricity or things like that, and they will all be taking into consideration and planning for businessmen who want to come back to Taiwan but at the same time we also have a new south bound policy.
We are encouraging business exchanges in between Taiwan and Southeast Asia and India and our relations with Southeast Asia and India have also been increasing. If the Taiwanese operations are willing to go to Southeast Asia and India for operation I think it will also be in line with our new south bound policy. If you look at the International supply chain, many of Taiwan's ICT investment in China, they go to China because of their mother companies wanting to have that operation in China. Therefore, when those mother companies want to move out somewhere and they want to set up their supply chain in a different place for example, in the United States or in India SouthEast Asia or Taiwan, I think Taiwan investors will migrate out together with their mother countries. I think our investors in China will need to adapt to that situation. In the long run, if the supply chain is more direct in between Taiwan the United States rather than going through China, I think it works in the benefit of Taiwan and the United States.
Reporter: If in my report, later on, I write that Taiwan is a renegade province, you will be angry at me. If I write it's a classy independent or de facto independent island, China will be angry at me. What should I do?
Minister: The CNN also came to Taiwan and asked me this question before they did the interview, "What is the things you don't want me to say when I report about your story?" I say, "I don't want to be called the province of China. I don't want to be called as the renegade province of China." Please don't call us that.
Reporter: Be called the Republic of China.
Minister: Republic of China or call us Taiwan or Taiwan is de facto independent. Not under Chinese jurisdiction.
Reporter: The President has embraced the notion of wishing to see her country become independent much more forcefully than her predecessor. This in ways seems to clash with you saying that Taiwan wants to maintain the status quo because apparently your president does not. She wants to see a change.
Minister: Let me clarify, the president's policy is to maintain status quo. She stated very clearly. … I think that the policy has been to maintain the status quo ever since the first day she was on the job as the president. It was the Chinese who continue to say that she wants to pursue independence.
Reporter: The Japanese Prime Minister Abe has been to China and has said he will have better relations, cooperation, trade, whatever.
Minister: That's right.
Reporter: Japan is very important for Taiwan. Does this so-called new cooperation between Japan and China also affect Taiwan?
Minister: So far, we don't see the warming relations between Tokyo and Beijing have any real effect on Taiwan. What we feel is that the other government is still very friendly to Taiwan and we don't have any doubt on that.
If you look at the special bond in between the Taiwanese people and the Japanese people, you don't find it anywhere else. You don't find it in between the United States and Canada, certainly not between the United States and Mexico or any other countries in Europe.
The bond in between the Taiwanese people and the Japanese people are very strong. Whenever these natural disasters taking place in Taiwan, the Japanese is always very fast, almost always the number one country that reaching out to Taiwan. Whenever there's a natural disaster in Japan, Taiwan is also always the first to reach out to Japan. In the Fukushima incident, tsunami and the nuclear disaster, the Taiwanese offer to help exceeds the culmination of the world all together, and the Japanese people treasure that kind of special friendship.
That kind of mutual feeling is very strong, and that forms a very good basis for the two countries to continue to develop their good relations with each other, and especially after Prime Minister Abe took office a few years ago. The relations continue to move ahead with talk about cooperation in the new south bound countries. We talk about how the young people can work with each other, how students can exchange with each other, we talk about the cultural exchange programs, things like that. As far as I can see, as long as Prime Minister Abe is in office, the friendly relations between Taiwan and Japan will continue.
Reporter: It strikes me, you are talking really warm about Japan. This is more than just political connection, this is cultural, this is feeling a bond.
Minister: Yes, exactly.
Reporter: Is it stronger than the bond with United States?
Minister: It's different, we like the United States as well, and our relationship with United States is also very strong as well. It's just different, it's very different. It's more people to people connections, and between Taiwan and United States, it's also a security bond which is not there in any other relationship.
Reporter: I think the United States also politically for a long time have been supporting Taiwan.
Reporter: I think fundamentally they're guarding it.
Minister: That is highly appreciated. The United States even though not recognizing Taiwan, but try to support Taiwan in virtually every regard. Try to change time and culturally. We also seen a large number of students to the United States for higher education-- [crosstalk]
Reporter: You have the highest large population of students studying.
Minister: In the United States. I was one of the products of the United States, I was an Ohio State graduate. Other than that, United States is also the most vocal supporter for Taiwanese international Participation. The United States is leading other many countries in supporting Taiwan. The United States it's also providing Taiwan with arms for Taiwan to be able to protect itself. The United States also enacted the Taiwan Relations act to highlight the special relationship between Taiwan and the United States in absence of the official relations.
Reporter: In the in the last 10 or 20 years the number of international allies, diplomatic allies of Taiwan has been shrinking. Now there are 16 plus in Vatican, which is an observer of the United Nations. Is there a policy in Taiwan to win back the loyalty of some of these country who left the relationship with Taiwan or there is an effort to win some new allies in other countries of the world?
Minister: We do not exclude the possibility, but we don't want to compete with China by offering large amount of assistance, because it makes no sense. We would accept those countries that recognize Taiwan because Taiwan can help or because Taiwan can contribute.
(This is a slightly edited and shortened transcript of the interview.)