The US is not living up to the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), a leading US representative said on Wednesday.
“We have enjoyed a long strategic partnership with Taiwan,” US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia Chairman Matt Salmon told a National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) conference.
“But I am concerned we are not living up to our expectations as expressed in the Taiwan Relations Act,” he added.
He said he hoped that over the next year, the US would bring clarity to the issue and better provide for the security and stability of Taiwan.
A Republican, Salmon did not give details of just how the US was failing to meet its obligations under the TRA but many members of US Congress have criticized US President Barack Obama for not selling more modern weapons systems — particularly F-16C/Ds — to the nation.
Salmon, who served as a Mormon missionary in Taiwan from 1977 to 1979, said that he had returned to Taiwan “many times” and would be leading a congressional delegation to Taiwan next month.
He said that Taiwan had a “very vibrant relationship” with the US and that the US Congress had an important role to play in that relationship, as demonstrated when it “stepped up to the plate” and passed the TRA.
“Taiwan is a very special place for me,” Salmon said.
He said that as a modern democracy and developed society, Taiwan has much to contribute to Asia and the world.
Salmon said that Taiwan would have an important election early next year, adding: “We are all watching that and are supportive of Taiwan’s democracy.”
He said that he strongly supported Taiwan’s influence in the world and hoped that it would participate “more and more” in international organizations.
“It’s crucial we have all hands on deck when it comes to world security and Taiwan is a part of that,” Salmon said.
He said that he supported Taiwan’s possible membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal in the second round of membership negotiations, which could still be more than two years away.
Earlier, Representative to the US Shen Lyu-shun (沈呂巡) told the conference — which was held in a congressional hearing room — that it was not just Taiwan that needed the TPP, but that the TPP also needed Taiwan.
“We are making our own necessary reforms to qualify and be eligible for TPP and even though we still need to make a lot a adjustments, we are actively preparing ourselves,” he said.
Asked whether China might pressure other TPP members to keep Taiwan out of the partnership, Shen said it was better for Taiwan to work on gaining membership rather than to worry about “the China factor.”
He said there were already precedents to show that China and Taiwan could work together and there was no point in fearing issues over which Taiwan has no control.