The committee probably sensed that Taiwanese have lost confidence in the US’ commitment to protect them. Thus, the Taiwan Policy Act on one hand reminds the US executive of the mandate of the Taiwan Relations Act (Sec. 3: “Nothing in this Act will be construed to amend or supersede the Taiwan Relations Act.”); on the other hand, it signals to Taiwanese the level of the US’ commitment to protect them.
The Taiwan Policy Act is comprehensive. It deals with political relations, security relations, economic and trade relations with Taiwan as a territorial political institution.
In political relations with Taiwan, the Taiwan Policy Act provides that “Notwithstanding any communiques entered into between the US and the People’s Republic of China (the ‘P.R.C.’), the US continues to assent to the six assurances provided to Taiwan in July 1982, including that the U.S. (1) has not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan; (2) has not agreed to hold prior consultations with the P.R.C. on arms sales to Taiwan; (3) will not play any mediation role between Taipei and Beijing; (4) has not agreed to revise the Taiwan Relations Act; (5) has not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan; and (6) will not exert pressure on Taiwan to negotiate with the P.R.C.” (Sec. 106).
In security relations with Taiwan, the Taiwan Policy announced that “any determination of the nature and quantity of defense articles and defense services to be made available to Taiwan that is made on any basis other than the defense needs of Taiwan, whether pursuant to the Aug. 17, 1982, [the Third Joint] Communiques signed with the P.R.C., or any similar executive agreement, order, or policy would violate the intent of Congress specified in the Taiwan Relations Act.”
In economic and trade relations, the act mandates that at the appropriate time the US should seek the negotiation of a free-trade agreement with Taiwan.
Although the US does not recognize Taiwan as a state, the policy guidelines prescribed in the Taiwan Policy Act do not contain a policy of “no Taiwan independence” or “no referendum for Taiwan,” as seen in the policies of Clinton and Bush.
The act is more friendly to Taiwanese than the policies of previous US administrations.
Some critics say that the Taiwan Policy Act perpetuates the rule of the ROC government in Taiwan. However, one does not necessarily have to read the it that way.
Although the Taiwan Policy Act provides that “The US Government shall respect the right of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative (TECRO) to display its flag on the premises,” the Act also “support[s] a decision by Taiwan to change the name of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.”
The key words are “a decision by Taiwan,” not by the ROC government.
Section 101 of the act provides that “The policies of the US shall be (1) supporting Taiwan, Taiwan’s democracy, and the human rights of its people.”
By implication, the US will respect the name of the representative’s office and the flag that the people of Taiwan choose.
The US Congressional Committee has exhausted its power to support Taiwanese. Taiwanese cannot expect the US or others to do more than that for them. They have to walk the rest of their journey themselves.