Sat, Jun 09, 2012 - Page 1 News List

US Congress set to debate bill on TRA implementation

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

Representative Robert Andrews has introduced a new bill to establish a special commission to advise the US Congress on how to implement the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

Andrews, a Democrat, lists the proposed commission’s number one job as assessing arms sales and reporting whether sufficient “defense articles” had been made available to Taiwan by the US. It would also assess whether Taiwan’s air and air defense forces retain the ability to effectively defend Taiwan against threats posed by China.

The idea is to appoint a five-member commission with a permanent staff and an annual budget of US$500,000.

A mini-survey by the Taipei Times showed that while the bill had widespread bipartisan support in the House, there could be difficulty providing financing during this fiscally tight election year.

The commissioners would be appointed by the president and by leaders of the House and Senate, and would write an annual report.

Other areas that commissioners would review include current and potential threats to the security, social or economic system of Taiwan and the extent to which the US retains the capability to resist any resource to force; measures taken by the US government toward the preservation and enhancement of human rights in Taiwan and policy options for the US to advance normalization of relations with Taiwan.

According to the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), the concept of a Congressional Taiwan commission sprang from testimony given last year by Project 2049 Institute president Randall Schriver. He told the House Foreign Affairs Committee there had been a tendency among US administrations to relegate relations with Taiwan to a sub-issue in US-China bilateral ties.

“Objective analysis is important because it remains the legal obligation of this administration to make weapons for self-defense available to our democratic friend Taiwan,” he said.

FAPA president Mark Kao (高龍榮) said that although the TRA had been in force for 33 years, Congress had yet to undertake a comprehensive review of its implementation.

“There is increasing concern about whether the US government is faithfully executing its obligations under the TRA, which after all is the law of the land,” he said.

The establishment of an objective advisory commission, whose sole purpose would be to examine the implementation of the TRA, would “contribute greatly to addressing this gap,” Kao said.

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