Thu, Nov 14, 2019 - Page 8 News List

US military rescue is no free lunch

By Parris Chang 張旭成

The US Senate on Oct. 29 unanimously passed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act. The legislation was introduced by US Senator Cory Gardner — chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy — and designed to assist Taiwan in retaining its remaining diplomatic allies.

The TAIPEI Act requires US government departments to take steps to support the strengthening of Taiwan’s diplomatic ties and informal partnerships with Indo-Pacific region nations and the wider world.

If a country severs formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, the act requires the US Department of State to conduct a review to determine whether an adjustment is needed in the US’ relations with that country.

The act instructs US government officials to use public statements, their votes and the influence of their office to provide support for Taiwan’s participation in the international community, and supports the US and Taiwan entering into bilateral trade negotiations and completing a mutually beneficial free-trade agreement.

The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on Oct. 30 gave the act its unanimous consent. At a committee meeting, Congressional Taiwan Caucus chair Steve Chabot said: “Taiwan is a critical ally in the Pacific and ought to be a role model for other nations across the globe.”

Chabot said that Taiwan fulfills all the criteria of a sovereign state and is an independent nation, and called on the US government to officially recognize Taiwan, adding: “It’s well past time that US policy catches up with these facts.”

US Representative Ted Yoho echoed Chabot’s statement, saying that it is time for the US to officially recognize Taiwan as a nation.

Once the act is passed by both chambers, any differences between the two versions of the bill would be worked out and it would be sent to the White House for US President Donald Trump’s signature, after which it would be enshrined into law.

Over the past few years, the Senate has passed a succession of Taiwan-friendly bills, such as the Taiwan Travel Act, which was signed into law by Trump last year.

However, the president and a number of government officials believe that these acts are merely an expression of the Senate’s opinion and are not legally binding. As a result, many of the Taiwan-friendly clauses within these laws have not been enforced.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) have praised Taiwan-US relations as being at their the strongest in four decades, but Wu is still blocked from visiting Washington on official business.

Wu thinks of himself as a great foreign minister, yet, putting political considerations aside, some US officials have privately said that he is stubborn and difficult to communicate with, and try to avoid getting embroiled in an argument with him.

Former US national security adviser John Bolton was the strongest advocate for Taiwan in the Trump administration.

Bolton subscribes to the position of former US president Ronald Reagan revealed in declassified memos about maintaining a military balance in the Taiwan Strait. In his role as national security adviser, Bolton promoted arms sales to Taiwan, but his proposals were obstructed within the Trump administration.

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