In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) introduced this bill to strengthen Taiwan’s standing around the world and respond to increased Chinese pressure intended to restrict Taiwan’s international space and global diplomatic recognition:
“My time as a missionary for the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan provided a unique understanding of the history and culture in the region. Almost four decades later, I am still committed to advocating on behalf of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people. Our relationship with Taiwan is an important alliance and we must do all we can to empower their democracy and free-market economy. The TAIPEI Act is bipartisan, doesn’t cost the American taxpayer a cent, and it combats Chinese bullying tactics. Win, win, win.”
After this bill unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Curtis said:
“I am so pleased to see the TAIPEI Act quickly move through the committee. It’s an honor for me to put this bill forward and I hope it’s a very clear message to our friends in Taiwan to say that friendship is reciprocated and that we appreciate their friendship over the many decades. Our relationship with Taiwan is an important alliance and we must do all we can to empower their democracy and free-market economy—I am hopeful that we can soon vote on the House floor in support of this crucial legislation.”
Sen. Cory Garder (R-CO), sponsor of a very similar Senate bill by the same name, says:
“The United States should use every tool to support Taiwan’s standing on the international stage. This bipartisan legislation demands a whole-of-government approach to ramp up our support for Taiwan, and will send a strong message to nations that there will be consequences for supporting Chinese actions that undermine Taiwan. I applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for advancing this critical bipartisan legislation, and I will continue to advocate on behalf of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people, as guided by United States law.”
Taiwan’s representative office in the U.S. expressed gratitude for this legislation after its Senate version unanimously passed that chamber. In a Facebook post, it said, “Taiwan will continue working closely with the U.S. and other like-minded countries in the region to contribute to peace, stability, and well-being in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The Trump administration views a “strong, prosperous and democratic Taiwan” as part of the rules-based order that the U.S. has a vital interest in upholding. In a recent strategy, the Pentagon expressed commitment to pursuing a strong relationship with Taiwan, particularly in light of Beijing’s pressure campaign against it.
However, at the same time, President Trump’s position on Taiwan has seemed to vacillate between strongly supporting the Taiwanese regime and wanting to merely use Taiwan as leverage against China on trade and North Korea. In a September 6, 2018 column in the Washington Post, Josh Rogin reported that a “senior administration official” described a dynamic in which “[t]his administration, from a personnel perspective, has the most hawkish Taiwan team ever…But if Xi calls [Donald Trump] and complains, the president’s instinct is to defer to that because there is always some pending issue in which we want something from the Chinese.”
This legislation unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee with the support of 37 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 25 Republicans and 12 Democrats. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), unanimously passed the Senate with the support of seven bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including five Republicans and two Democrats.
Of Note: During this bill’s hearing on October 23, 2019, Rep. Curtis noted that China — which views Taiwan as a rogue province — has actively used its growing influence to coerce Taiwan’s diplomatic allies in the Indo-Pacific region to break ties with it. After the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party’s Tsai Ing-wen was elected president of Taiwan in 2016 and subsequently refused to accept the one-China principle, Beijing suspended diplomatic exchanges with Taiwan, staged war games around the island, and poached seven allies away from Taipei. After a September 2019 switch in alliance by the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, Taiwan now has only 15 diplomatic allies, most of which are impoverished countries in the Pacific and Latin America.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), sponsor of this bill’s Senate companion, says that China’s poaching of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies is a “major threat” to Taiwanese democracy. He argues that if the U.S. doesn’t stand up to China on Taiwan’s behalf, what’s happening in Hong Kong today is a glimpse into Taiwan’s future.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Niyazz)