Sat, Apr 18, 2015 - Page 3 News List

US Taiwan-Interpol bill introduced

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

A new bill urging US President Barack Obama to push for observer status for Taiwan in the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) was introduced into the US Congress on Thursday.

Sponsored by US Representative Matt Salmon, chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, the bill would require Obama to submit an official request on Taiwan’s behalf to Interpol.

It would also require the White House to encourage Interpol members to support an application from Taiwan for observer status.

The bill has bipartisan backing, including that of the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, US Representative Ed Royce, and ranking member US Representative Eliot Engel.

Capitol Hill insiders expect the bill to quickly win committee approval and go before the House of Representatives for a vote.

It is part of a more general move by House Republicans to gain more international presence for the nation.

“Taiwan’s observer status would promote stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region and assist Taiwan in protecting the safety of its citizens by combatting criminal activity through access to Interpol’s global police communications systems,” Salmon said.

Taiwan currently relies on the US and other countries to informally pass along Interpol information on relevant criminal activity.

“With the rise of terrorism throughout the globe, not allowing Taiwan independent and easy access to Interpol is an unnecessary and dangerous risk,” Salmon said.

Taiwan was a full member of Interpol from 1964 until 1984, when the People’s Republic of China applied for membership.

A recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said that since 1984, Taiwan’s National Police Agency had cooperated with Interpol on several criminal cases, but had been unable to cooperate on a routine basis.

“Taiwan should be permitted access to Interpol’s network so that it can both contribute to and benefit from what would be a more comprehensive fight against international criminals across the globe,” the study said.

Interpol membership rules allow police bodies that are not members of the organization to act as observers.

According to the CSIS study, Taiwan’s “indistinct status” and Beijing’s continued opposition prevent full membership in Interpol.

“Taiwan has appealed multiple times for its membership to be restored, but to no avail,” the study said.

It said that Taiwan is forced to acquire second-hand information on international criminals and criminal activity from friendly countries, but that this information is provided only on request and is often outdated and incomprehensive.

As a result, the study said Taiwan is left vulnerable to international crime inside its borders.

The new bill comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry has issued a statement describing Taiwan as a fundamental element of Obama’s “rebalancing” to Asia.

Kerry said the US would continue to strengthen, expand and improve its solid and multi-sided unofficial relations with Taiwan.

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