0331: America COMPETES Act Passed Senate, Pompeo’s Remarks on Ending U.S. Strategic Ambiguity Towards Taiwan

Senate Passes the America COMPETES Act with Pro-Taiwan Provisions, but Obstacles Remain

On March 28, the U.S. Senate passed an omnibus U.S. competitiveness bill, which includes provisions to enhance military, cultural, and de facto diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but obstacles remain in having the bill enacted into law.

For the bill, the Senate substituted the original text of the “America COMPETES Act” of 2022 (H.R.4521) with the text of the Senate’s “U.S. Innovation and Competition Act” (USICA) of 2021 (S.1260). The amended bill was approved by a 68-28 vote and sent back to the House.

While there is considerable overlap between the USICA and the original contents of the America COMPETES Act, as both bills are aimed at increasing U.S. competitiveness, in particular to counter China, substantive differences also exist in several areas. The House is expected to reject the substituted legislation and request a Senate and House conference to reconcile the differences.

With respect to Taiwan, both bills generally reiterate U.S. support for Taiwan. They require the U.S. to reinforce its commitments to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the “Six Assurances,” and conduct regular arms sales to enhance Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities.

They both call for the establishment of a “U.S.-Taiwan Cultural Exchange Foundation,” and contain lengthy provisions on a “Taiwan Fellowship Program.”

There are key differences, however. For example, the House-backed America COMPETES Act calls for changing the name of Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the U.S. from the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to the “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO), while the Senate version does not.

The Senate bill does call for ending the outdated practice of referring to the “Taiwan government” as the “Taiwan authorities” and for ending restrictions on Taiwanese diplomats and service members to display Taiwan’s “symbols of sovereignty” in the U.S. for official purposes. No similar provisions are found in the House bill.

FAPA urges the two houses of Congress to include the TECRO name change to TRO, treatment of Taiwan government, Taiwan symbols of sovereignty, and other pro-Taiwan provisions into the final version of the America COMPETES Act to lend more dignity and respect to the 23 million people of U.S. long-time ally Taiwan.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202203300007
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2022/03/31/2003775764

Pompeo Urges U.S. To End Strategic Ambiguity Towards Taiwan

The U.S. should end its policy of strategic ambiguity towards Taiwan and formally recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with the Hudson Institute on March 28.

Pompeo said that Washington’s vague policy toward Taiwan is “really dangerous” because authoritarian regimes will always use that ambiguity against us, as seen in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S. should recognize that Taiwan is an independent country unaffiliated with the Chinese Communist Party, Pompeo said, adding that this would “provide the clarity that would reduce risk for the people of Taiwan.”

Chinese leader Xi Jinping may think he can capture Taiwan either by using true hard power or by other means, Pompeo said. His “tactics” may well change, but his “ultimate objective” to seize Taiwan would hardly be altered.

Pompeo mentioned that the Taiwanese are paying close attention to the situation in Ukraine and are aware they need to strengthen their own defense capabilities.

He said Taiwanese officials hope that the U.S. can assist Taiwan to build “a collective security set of understandings” with regional allies, including Japan, Australia, and South Korea, and ensure that Taiwan “has the capacity to defend themselves.”

Moreover, we “would need [to] be prepared to help the Taiwanese truly defend themselves,” Pompeo said. And that includes not only arms sales, but also intelligence sharing, military trainings, and building regional alliance.

And we ought to have strategic clarity to make sure that “Xi Jinping’s calculus included an enormous cost should he decide to move.”

[1] Hudson Institute: https://www.hudson.org/events/2093-virtual-event-insights-on-the-upcoming-national-security-strategy-from-michael-r-pompeo-and-nadia-schadlow-32022
[2] Taiwan News: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/4489324