U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee
August 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Member Statements and Remarks
Ed Royce (R-CA): Committee Chair
As a strong supporter of U.S.-Taiwan relations and a co-sponsor of this legislation, I’d like to begin by expressing my appreciation to our chair emeritus for authoring this good work. Taiwan, as you know, shares many common values with the United States, and earlier this year the ranking member and I traveled to Taiwan with a bipartisan delegation and discussed many of the issues that are addressed in this particular bill. Our relationship between this country and Taiwan is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy in the region, and this bill bolsters the U.S.-Taiwan diplomatic relationship, and helps to ensure that Taiwan will be able to defend itself by authorizing the transfer of defensive military equipment.
There is no better indicator of strong relations between countries than flourishing trade. The Taiwan Policy Act recognizes this by calling on [the] United States Trade Representative to quickly conclude the ongoing the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, the TIFA negotiations with Taiwan, and to begin negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement with the country.
Last month, the President signed legislation passed by this committee to bolster Taiwan’s participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization. This bill is another positive step in our relationship, and I urge my colleagues to support the Taiwan Policy Act.”
Eliot Engel (D-NY): Ranking Member
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. As you mentioned, you and I both traveled to Taiwan earlier this year and I have always been bullish on the U.S-Taiwan relationship. I have always been amazed by what the people of Taiwan have been able to accomplish. Their economy is something like 18th in the world, on a small little island. They have been good allies and friends of the United States, and I think that we should continue to do everything that we can do to strengthen them and make the relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan stronger than ever.
This Taiwan Policy Act of 2013 is introduced by our colleague Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and I support it wholeheartedly. It’s intended to update and strengthen certain aspects of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. It includes a provision that would allow senior leaders from Taiwan to visit the United States, and not just on so-called “transit stops” on their way to other countries. It’s time that every Taiwanese official is accorded the respect that they deserve, and I feel very very strongly about that.
The legislation also maintains strong U.S. support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations such as the World Health Organization, and the International Civic [sic] Aviation Organization. And finally the bill authorizes the President to make available to Taiwan a wide range of defense items and services in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act which governs the relations between the United States and Taiwan. By strengthening Taiwan’s self-defense capability, the United States can help it deter and defend against any possible attack.
Make no mistake about it, everyone should know that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship is unbreakable, and this legislation helps to cement that. This bipartisan legislation reinforces America’ strong support for Taiwan and the Taiwanese people, and I urge my colleagues to support it.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): Introducer of the bill
Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to thank you and our esteemed ranking member for bring up H.R. 419, the Taiwan Policy Act, to markup this morning. I’d also like to thank the co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, our Foreign Affairs colleague Albio Sires and as well as Gerry Connolly, and Mario Diaz-Balart and John Carter, for their full support and in joining me in introducing this bill.
Taiwan is an important ally and friend of the United States, and should be treated as such. Our relations with Taiwan is stronger than ever, yet Taiwan faces a precarious situation as North Korea remains unpredictable, and China continues to ramp up its military presence in the region and pursue antagonistic policies in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea. This bill sends our Taiwan allies an important message. It shows them that the United States Congress deeply values our friendship with them, and that we will stand by their side in the face of Chinese aggression. This bill will further strengthen our relations by finally permitting senior Taiwanese leaders to meet with U.S. officials in all executive branches—imagine that! It will also authorize the sale of much-needed F-16 C/D aircraft to the armed forces of Taiwan. China has been increasing its military spending at an alarming rate; we must not allow Taiwan’s defense capabilities to lag behind. So in an effort to not have that happen, this bill also authorizes the transfer of decommissioned class-guided missile frigates to Taiwan. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, this bipartisan bill is not only good for our national interests, but it also sends in important message to Taiwan that we value her friendship and will continue to stand by her side.
Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Somoa): Asia Subcommittee Ranking Member
Mr. Chairman, thank you and also our senior ranking member for not only your support but for your leadership and endorsement of this proposed legislation. I particularly want to thank also the chairman of our subcommittee. Chairman Chabot I, we also recently had the privilege of visiting Taiwan, and visiting and meeting with President Ma and some of the high officials of their government. We wanted to reassure them of our absolute support in our bilateral relationship. I think we need to be reminded of the fact that Taiwan was the most critical issue which led to President Nixon’s historical visit in 1972, changing literally the whole course of history in terms of our relationship then with the two powerful countries, the Soviet Union as well as China. I think it’s important to note also that Congress passing the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 was very, very critical. It is the chief cornerstone of our entire bilateral relationship with Taiwan, dealing both with economic as well as security issues. And I wanted just to note also that recently I had the privilege of introducing the South China Seas resolutions. We wanted to give notice to our friends in the People’s Republic of China about our concerns of what is happening in that region
We all know of the threats, the fact that some 1,600 ballistic missiles are pointed from China towards Taiwan. And in terms of our concerns in making sure that Taiwan is given whatever capabilities as far as military efforts to defend itself, against—and I think it’s also our responsibility, I think we need to be reminded that Taiwan is a beacon of democracy, a constant example where countries in this important region of the world need to look at the example, that the people of Taiwan are able to live as a free people, and in a way that—their elections and everything—second to none in terms of the freedoms that they enjoy. And with Mr. Chairman I want to really commend again the gentlelady from Florida for her leadership, her initiative, and her passion and support of the people and the leaders of Taiwan….I ask that our colleagues support this legislation.
Steve Chabot (R-OH): Asia Subcommittee Chair
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to thank Mr. Faleomavaega. As he indicated we travelled to Taiwan earlier this year and it as a very productive trip, I think. We’ve had a tremendous working relationship and I want to thank him for that. As he mentioned, we did have the opportunity to meet with President Ma. We also met with former President Chen, and we certainly hope that that issue is resolved sometime in the very near future.
I strongly support the Taiwan Policy Act, and I want to commend Chairman Ros-Lehtinen for her hard work on this issue. I’m not going repeat everything I said during our Asia subcommittee markup, but I do want to recognize the strong relationship, as has already been indicated here, between the United States and Taiwan. Taiwan is a democracy. It’s a loyal friend and ally of the United States, and it deserves to be treated as such by the United States government.
The legislation before us addresses a number of important issues. In the interest of time I’ll highlight just a couple. First, the Taiwan Policy Act would authorize an arms sales package that’s long overdue—a package including, as Ms. Ros-Lehtinen indicated, the F-16 C/D. That would provide a very important security blanket to Taiwan as it faces potential aggression from the PRC.
The legislation also addresses an issue that I’ve been speaking out about for many years now, the issue of high-level visits by high ranking Taiwanese officials. Our current policy is insulting to our Taiwanese friends, and it sends the wrong message to all our allies. A change in U.S. policy is long overdue, and this legislation moves us toward that goal. Some years ago when President Chen visited the united States, 25 or so members of this body had to, after votes on Monday evening, fly up to New York City to meet with the president because he couldn’t come to Washington, D.C. It makes absolutely no sense. On another occasion, the foreign minister—I had visited with him when he was a member of the legislature here in Washington. He was appointed foreign minister about four weeks later, and I had to go to Baltimore to visit with him, because he couldn’t come to Washington, D.C. anymore—even though he had a home on the outskirts of Washington. So it makes absolutely no sense at all, it ought to be changed, it’s long overdue, and I appreciate Ms. Ros-Lehtinen in addressing that in this legislation.
Ted Deutch (D-FL):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you to chairman emeritus Ros-Lehtinen for this legislation that reaffirms the special relationship between the United States and Taiwan. Since Congress first passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, there’s been overwhelming support for the strategic and economic relationship between our two countries. Taiwan is the United States’ 8th largest trading partner, with trade totaling over $60 billion annually. Taiwan has provided a reliable partner and ally for the United States in the Pacific. But as we confront various regional challenges and changing dynamics, this is a relationship that needs a long-term strategic vision. The United States will continue to support Taiwan’s strategic needs, and I hope that in time we will see delivery of the F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan.
There’s no doubt that this island national plays a vital role in the world’s economy and deserves a place in the international community. Taiwan’s ability to participate in international fora is consistently hindered, and the United States must continue to work to ensure that Taiwan receives observer status in various UN bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization and the World Health Organization.
Perhaps most importantly, we will continue to cement the strong and vibrant relationship between the American people and the people of Taiwan.
Matt Salmon (R-AZ):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. From 1977-1979, I was privileged to be a missionary for my church in Taiwan. I lived in the southern part of Taiwan, I learned the Chinese language, and I learned that the people of Taiwan are a freedom-loving people, hardworking people that feel very very strongly about their relationship with the United States. In fact, many many times they mentioned to me how welcome I was, being from Arizona, because Barry Goldwater, who was our Senator at the time, was referred to as ‘Mr. Taiwan,” because of his immense support for Taiwan.
I was also there in 1979, living there, when Jimmy Carter normalized relations with China and severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan. And I’ve got to tell you, a lot of those folks were very dispirited. They felt like at that time maybe the United States was walking back from its friendship and its commitment to one of the strongest allies that we’ve had—probably next to Israel, the strongest ally that the United States has had. And we shared with them that that doesn’t do anything to diminish the strength and the commitment of the United States, and they were patient, they stayed with us. Then came the Taiwan Relations Act that very very strongly said that we would stand by Taiwan, and if a crisis happened in that region of the world, we would stand by them as strong allies as we always have done.
Fast forward a little, I was privileged to be there at the swearing-in of Lee Teng-hui. He was the first freely-elected president from that region of the world in, gosh, I don’t know how many decades. But what a wonderful experience that was. And as I watched that budding democracy unfold in Taiwan, it couldn’t help but bring tears to my eyes but joy to my heart, to see them, like we did over two hundred years ago, to try a new experiment, a new way of doing things. As I watch what’s going on in Taiwan, I see their continued love of freedom, and I watch as we, on this panel, express all the time that this relationship with Taiwan is one that will stand the test of time—it makes me feel really good.
I think about the future of the eastern part of the hemisphere, and I think that Taiwan is a wonderful example, I believe, for the rest of that region to follow. And ultimately I believe that in our lifetime, Mr. Chairman, they will lead the way to big, big reforms, I believe, on mainland China. Mainland China has accepted economic freedom. But I think that as we all realize, economic freedom is just the precursor to all the other freedoms that we enjoy. And I believe that if we stand by Taiwan and we keep them strong, ultimately it’s going to be not only to the U.S.’s advantage, but to the entire world’s advantage. I want to let the entire world know, but especially Taiwan know, I would like to be considered one of their best friends, as you, Mr. Chairman, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mr. Rohrabacher, and many many others on this panel. I want to express my undying support for that democracy. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation and I enthusiastically support what we’re doing here today.
Gerry Connolly (VA): Taiwan Caucus Co-chair
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’m also proud to co-sponsor this legislation, and I thank you and the ranking member for bringing it up this morning. I’m also proud to serve as the co-chair of the Taiwan Caucus here in Congress I’ve had the privilege—I didn’t go there for my church, Mr. Salmon, but I’ve been to Taiwan 23 times. I started out originally as an Eisenhower Fellow back in 1988. And I’ve seen enormous progress in Taiwan, including democratization, inclusivity in terms of political participation, freedom of thought, freedom to organize, and the like. It’s very heartening, and I hope it serves as a model for its big neighbor in the mainland.
What is important, it seems to me, in this relationship, is that the United States be clear and steadfast in the signals and actions it takes with respect to the defense of Taiwan, and our commitment to the Taiwan Straits. Whatever happens in that part of the world must be done peacefully and consensually, and it will not be done by force. The United States is prepared to keep that commitment, pursuant to the Taiwan Relations Act and its longstanding commitment to the people of Taiwan. I think that’s really a very important message, and I think that message is reaffirmed with the legislation we’re adopting today.
H.R. 419, as amended, was adopted by voice vote and ordered favorably reported to the House by unanimous consent.
Members in attendance at markup of H.R.419, Taiwan Policy Act of 2013; and H.R. 2848, Department of State Operations and Embassy Security Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2014
Ed Royce, CA—Chair
Chris Smith, NJ
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, FL
Dana Rohrabacher, CA
Steve Chabot, OH
Ted Poe, TX
Matt Salmon, AZ
Jeff Duncan, SC
Tom Cotton, AR
George Holding, NC
Scott Perry, PA
Steve Stockman, TX
Ron DeSantis, FL
Ted Yoho FL
Luke Messer, IN
Eliot Engel, NY—Ranking Member
Eni Faleomavaega, AS
Brad Sherman, CA
Gregory Meeks, NY
Albio Sires, NJ
Gerry Connolly, VA
Ted Deutch, FL
William Keating, MA
David Cicilline, RI
Juan Vargas, CA
Brad Schneider, IL
Joseph P. Kennedy, MA
Alan Lowenthal, CA
Grace Meng, NY
Lois Frankel, FL
Tulsi Gabbard, HI
Joaquín Castro, TX