Taiwan a ‘bastion of hope’: US lawmakers

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Wed, May 23, 2012 - Page 3

US representatives visiting Taiwan yesterday brushed off talk of the US “abandoning” Taiwan, saying that would be a betrayal of US commitments to liberty.

The abandonment of Taiwan would mean “more than losing a strategic ally” to the US and would also betray the US’ -commitment to liberty, US Representative Thaddeus McCotter said in a question-and-answer session during a forum with young people in Taipei organized by the Formosa Foundation.

The Michigan congressman was part of a seven-member US congressional delegation which is headed by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs. The group arrived on Sunday as -President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was inaugurated for his second term in office.

McCotter, Ros-Lehtinen and Representative Jean Schmidt attended the forum and held a 60-minute discussion with dozens of young students and others on a variety of issues.

Recalling the 1989 Tiananman Square massacre, McCotter lamented that past US administrations had failed to grasp the importance of the Sino-US relationship, at the center of which sits the promotion of liberty.

However, Taiwan — in particular its young generation — could take advantage of the power of social media and have an impact in China, McCotter and Schmidt both said. Schmidt also called Taiwan a “beacon on the hill and a bastion of hope.”

On US arms sales to Taiwan, Ros-Lehtinen reassured the forum that the pro-Taiwan US lawmakers had been agitating for an armaments deal including the sale of new F-16 aircraft and -diesel-electric submarines. She said these would help Taiwan maintain its defenses and added that she endorsed providing the country with the most sophisticated and advanced military hardware available to counter China’s rapidly growing military power as well as Beijing’s intimidation and bullying of Taiwan.

Delegation members all declined to comment on US President Barack Obama’s Taiwan policy or Ma’s performance in office, with McCotter saying that there is no point in the US taking sides on the internal politics of another state.