Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, on May 20 the world will see an encouraging sight. On that day, President Ma Ying-jeou of the Republic of China will be sworn in for a second term on the island of Taiwan. I was so pleased to see yet another free, fair, democratic election take place on January 14. I want to take a moment to wish President Ma and the people of Taiwan success and prosperity as their young democracy continues to flourish and serve as an example for other countries in the region.
The difference in governance can be striking when Taiwan is compared to some of its neighbors in the region. Taiwan's experiment with democracy is less than two decades old, but it has demonstrated spectacular progress, holding direct democratic elections in every Presidential election since 1996. The people of Taiwan vigorously exercise their right to vote--three out of every four Taiwanese citizens voted in the January elections--and they feel empowered to petition their government, voice their grievances, peacefully assemble, and, in general, enjoy many of the political freedoms that Americans hold dear.
Taiwan is an important economic partner of the United States and is a robust and growing market for American exports. Just last month, as chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, I held a hearing on agricultural export opportunities to Asia. As Asia continues to experience impressive economic growth, it is important to remember that Taiwan is the sixth largest destination for American agricultural exports. More can be done to improve bilateral trade between our two countries though, and I hope President Ma and his colleagues in the Legislative Yuan will move quickly to resolve the outstanding issues surrounding American beef imports.
President Ma made good progress in his first 4 years in improving cross-strait relations and has worked hard to promote peace and prosperity in the region. I commend both sides' work in developing and signing the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. I am confident that President Ma will continue to work to ensure cross-strait stability and cultivate an environment free from intimidation.
The people of Taiwan have much to be proud of as they celebrate the inauguration of President Ma. The relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan is based on shared values and common interests. I look forward to seeing Taiwan grow and prosper, and want the Taiwanese people to know that they have an unshakeable ally in the United States as they continue forward as a young democracy.