Fri, Jan 06, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Romney, Santorum favor Taiwan

ALLIES:The two leading US Republican presidential candidates have a pro-Taiwan record, including support for the sale of F-16s and membership in global institutions

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, front-runner for the US Republican presidential nomination, has a distinctly pro-Taiwan political record.

He is in favor of selling F-16C/D aircraft to Taiwan and has criticized US President Barack Obama for refusing to do so.

Romney has also praised Taiwan for its vibrant economy and described it as “an independent democratic country” that is not part of China.

Following the Iowa caucus elections on Tuesday night — which Romney won by a razor-thin eight-vote margin over former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum — the -former governor is heavily favored to win the New Hampshire primary election on Tuesday.

At this early stage in the nominating contest, many analysts now believe that the three leading Republican candidates are Romney, Santorum and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

It is increasingly likely that the Republicans will pick one of these three to face Obama — widely considered to be vulnerable — in the November election.

Santorum also has a solid pro-Taiwan record, but Paul, with his Libertarian views, would be unlikely to offer much significant support to Taipei under almost any circumstances.

Many responsible analysts think it is unlikely that Paul will win the nomination, but he could run as an independent and capture enough votes to scuttle the chances of either Romney or Santorum.

In September, after it became clear that Obama would not sell F-16C/Ds to Taiwan, Romney said: “President Obama’s refusal to sell Taiwan new military jets is yet another example of his weak leadership in foreign policy.”

“Every American president for the past three decades — both Republican and Democrat — has recognized our interest in helping Taiwan defend itself,” he said.

“In the face of China’s intensive military buildup, the US needs the strongest possible partnerships in Asia. However, Obama has -ignored Taiwan’s request and caved in to the unreasonable demands of China,” he said.

Earlier, he wrote in his book No Apology: The Case For American Greatness that Taiwan was “not China.”

“It is an independent democratic country of 23 million people,” he wrote. “Taiwan holds free and fair elections, guards its citizens’ civil rights and political liberties, and is also a model of free enterprise, having the twentieth largest economy in the world.”

“If the people of Taiwan were to choose to unite with China, that would be their right, but that has never been the choice of a modern free Taiwan,” he said.

For his part, Santorum, while in the Senate, voted in favor of Taiwan being granted membership in multilateral economic institutions, including the IMF and the -International Bank of Reconstruction. He also voted to increase US security ties to Taiwan.

Santorum also signed a letter urging the White House to sell Taiwan “more advanced arms,” including submarines.

Paul’s voting record in Congress has been to oppose most US government initiatives abroad. He even refuses to support the annual resolution commemorating the anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act.

“The bottom line is that the US commitment and security guarantees to Taiwan, no matter who occupies the White House, are rock-solid,” Formosan Association for Public Affairs executive director Coen Blaauw told the Taipei Times.

“It is interesting to note that support for Taiwan especially comes to the forefront when Congress and the president are from different parties,” he said.

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