0423: Taiwan Solidarity Act, Strategic Competition Act, TRA 2.0

Taiwan International Solidarity Act Introduced in the House to Counter China’s Attempts to Isolate Taiwan

On April 19, the bipartisan “Taiwan International Solidarity Act” was introduced in the House of Representatives, with the aim to counter China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan and Beijing’s growing efforts to isolate Taiwan from international organizations.

The bill was introduced by Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) with the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, Ami Bera (D-CA), as well as the four Co-Chairs of the Taiwan Caucus — Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Steve Chabot (R-OH), who is also the Ranking Member of the Asia Subcommittee.

The draft bill stipulates that the U.S. opposes “any initiative that seeks to change Taiwan’s status without the consent of the people” and rejects Beijing’s attempts to distort the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 (XXVI) to claim that Taiwan is part of China and try to represent Taiwan in international organizations.

“The TAIPEI Act [i.e., the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act] has greatly strengthened our relationship with Taiwan as both the Trump and Biden Administrations have worked to fulfill its mandate. However, since the bill’s signing last year, China has mounted pressure on international organizations to claim that Taiwan is part of China,” said Rep. Curtis in a press release. “This bill adds to the TAIPEI Act in a way that would counter these attempt[s],” he added.

Chairman Bera pointed out: “With this bill, we reaffirm the United States will not stand by as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) falsely claims that Beijing has the right to represent the people of Taiwan in international institutions. Despite what Chinese officials may assert, the UN resolution that recognized representatives of the PRC Government as China’s only lawful representatives to the United Nations is silent on how the people of Taiwan should be represented in the world body, and on Taiwan’s status vis-à-vis the PRC.”

“The PRC has long used U.N. General Assembly Resolution 2758 as a pretext to bully the international community into supporting its bogus sovereignty claims over Taiwan and its One China Principle, despite the fact the Resolution does not address Taiwan’s status. This has led to Taiwan being excluded from international organizations like the World Health Organization, INTERPOL, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), creating needless gaps in these important mechanisms,” Ranking Member Chabot stated.

FAPA President Minze Chien added, “China’s One China Principle is a bizarre and irrational fiction. After all, the People’s Republic of China has not had any effective control over Taiwan since the PRC was established in 1949. The time is now for the U.S. Government to proactively challenge that One China Principle.”

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202104200018
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2021/04/21/2003756068

A Bipartisan Bill to Counter China’s Aggression Clears SFRC

The bipartisan “Strategic Competition Act of 2021” that seeks to boost the U.S. capability to counter China’s growing aggression on the international stage, including its belligerence against Taiwan, cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) by an overwhelming 21-1 vote on April 21.

The bill was introduced on April 8 by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-ID). The bill is an “unprecedented bipartisan effort to mobilize all U.S. strategic, economic, and diplomatic tools for an Indo-Pacific strategy that will allow our nation to truly confront the challenges China poses to our national and economic security,” Sen. Menendez said.

Several amendments made it into the bill, including the “Taiwan Fellowship Act” (which would create a civil servant training and cooperation initiative between Taiwan and the U.S.) and the “Reassurance for Official Contacts Act” (which allows Taiwanese diplomats and service members to display their flag and wear their uniforms while on official business).

The draft bill, in part, extensively treats the U.S.-Taiwan exchanges. It says that there should be no restrictions on American officials’ interaction with their Taiwanese counterparts. The State Department and other government agencies should engage with the Taiwanese government “on the same basis, and using the same nomenclature and protocol” as it does with other foreign governments, the bill states.

The bill also reiterates U.S. support for Taiwan’s “meaningful participation in the United Nations system” and other global organizations, including the World Health Assembly, International Civil Aviation Organization, and International Criminal Police Organization.

In terms of military strategy, the bill asks Washington to help Taiwan execute its asymmetric defense strategy, urges Taiwan to increase its defense spending, and advises regular U.S. transfers of a range of defensive weaponry and military technologies to Taiwan.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202104220001
[2] Liberty Times (Mandarin): https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/3507925

FAPA President’s Op-Ed: Time for a “TRA 2.0” as an Addendum to the 1979 TRA 

In an editorial in the Taipei Times of April 18, FAPA President Minze Chien states that the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act was enacted when Taiwan was still under martial law and ruled by the authoritarian Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Over the past decades, Taiwan has evolved into a vibrant democracy. And now the country stands as a progressive beacon of democracy for others in the region to emulate. But, yet, the TRA has been frozen in time, never amended and never extended.

Dr. Chien writes that there is a consensus in Washington DC that the TRA should not be amended or that it should not be opened up because “doing so would give all elements — friendly and hostile — opportunities to muddle and detract from the law.”

Dr. Chien asks: “Exactly what new components might a new ‘TRA 2.0’ as an addendum to the 1979 TRA contain as a US law that reflects the relationship between the US and Taiwan of this day and age?”

He proceeds to list several elements that such a “TRA 2.0” should contain: “A ‘TRA 2.0’  might consolidate and reinforce some important elements of pro-Taiwan legislation efforts passed or introduced over the past few years.”

He also adds: “A ‘TRA 2.0’ should more clearly define the US commitment to Taiwan’s defense. The policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ no longer suffices. With daily and ever-escalating Chinese incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the Taiwan Strait and East China Sea the time for ‘strategic clarity’ is now.”

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