Randy Forbes, chairman of the US House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, accused US President Barack Obama’s administration of forcing Taiwan to “endure a range of humiliations and difficulties — all for fear of antagonizing China.”
Forbes, who is also co-chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, said US leaders are insisting on a series of petty and counterproductive policies toward Taiwan that do nothing to enhance US interests or regional security.
Forbes said that China’s “much-touted” motto of a “peaceful rise” has been exposed as a hollow slogan.
“Other nations in the region, from long-standing allies like Australia and Japan to former foe Vietnam, are clamoring for a strong US response and tighter military ties with America,” Forbes said.
In a statement published this week by the Wall Street Journal, Forbes said that under US government regulations, no US military officer over the rank of colonel or navy captain can visit Taiwan, “a country that America is required by law to supply with advanced weaponry.”
He said that Taiwan’s president and other senior government officials are prohibited from traveling to Washington for meetings with their US counterparts.
“Tales abound of Taiwanese officers arriving for training at US facilities in khaki pants and polo shirts, much to the surprise of their US colleagues — who understandably wonder why representatives of a trusted military partner are restricted from wearing their nation’s uniform,” Forbes said.
He added that even midshipmen at Taiwan’s naval academy are forbidden from making port calls in Hawaii or Guam on their post-graduation training cruise.
“These indignities inflicted on a friendly nation are petty, but they reveal a larger truth about US relations with China,” Forbes said.
He said that US policymakers have consistently responded with “meek acquiescence” to Beijing’s hypersensitivity about matters ranging from Taiwan to Tibet, religious freedom and the persecution of ethnic minorities.
“Rather than eliciting appreciation from China, the US has only emboldened Beijing and undermined our allies’ confidence that the US is willing to uphold regional stability and international norms,” he said.
Forbes said that US policy toward Taiwan should reflect US strategic interests, Taiwan’s decades of security cooperation with the US and Taiwan’s march toward multi-party democracy — not inordinate fears of offending Chinese leaders.
“The US should not only drop demeaning restrictions on bilateral relations, but further integrate Taiwan’s military into the US regional security architecture,” he said.
Forbes said he believes the US should invite Taiwan to participate in critical joint military exercises such as the US Air Force’s Red Flag, which is open to numerous US allies with capabilities similar to Taiwan’s.
“Participation in prestigious US exercises would enhance Taiwan’s self-defense and signal America’s enduring commitment to our regional partners,” he said.
He acknowledged that the US and Taiwan recently increased military cooperation in areas including the sharing of advanced radar data, practicing to repair damaged runways and coordinating humanitarian assistance missions.
“[However], the US remains far too reticent about permitting Taiwanese engagement in high-profile, capability-enhancing endeavors,” he said.
Forbes said that decades of experience have taught him that Beijing does not respond positively when the US is perceived as weak.
“By forcing Taiwan to endure small-scale humiliations and denying it the training it critically needs, Washington has given Beijing effective veto power over America’s defense relationships in East Asia,” he said. “The US should show China that America will stand firmly with its friends and behind the longstanding US-led international order in the Asia-Pacific.”
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