0915: Taiwan Policy Act Clears Senate Committee; Visiting Taiwan Agricultural Mission; Full UN Membership for Taiwan

Taiwan Policy Act Clears U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

On September 14, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the “Taiwan Policy Act of 2022” (S.4428) that would significantly expand U.S. efforts to promote Taiwan’s security, including provisions for billions of dollars in security assistance, as China expands its military campaign and aggression against Taiwan to undermine the status quo.

The panel advanced the bill by a vote of 17-5, sending it to the full Senate for consideration, despite unspecified concerns about the legislation in the Biden’s administration and anger about the measure from Beijing.

The strong bipartisan vote was a clear indication of support from both Republicans and Biden’s fellow Democrats for changes in U.S. policy toward Taiwan, such as treating it as a “major non-NATO ally” (MNNA), which would benefit Taiwan in terms of defense, trade and security cooperation.

The Taiwan Policy Act would also give Taiwan up to US$6.5 billion in grants from 2023 to 2027 to purchase U.S. arms; call for the U.S. to “engage with” Taiwan’s democratically elected government as the “legitimate representative of the people of Taiwan”; support Taiwan’s participation in international organizations and multilateral trade architecture; and affirm the U.S. president’s power to levy sanctions on Chinese officials and financial institutions involved in hostile actions against Taiwan.

Following the vote, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) told reporters that the bill “makes it very clear of our support for Taiwan in many different dimensions and defense and the international realm and economic engagement,” as the legislation deals with “the aggression that China has shown in a way that it’s never shown before in the 43 or so years of the Taiwan Relations Act.”

“If we want to ensure Taiwan has a fighting chance, we must act now,” said Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), the committee’s top Republican, arguing that any change in the status quo for Taiwan would have “disastrous effects” for the U.S. economy and national security.

Nevertheless, following a meeting between White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and congressional leaders, the Senate committee decided to clip some of the bill’s more “radical” proposals.

Among the changes, the bill will now express that Congress recommends, but not requires, the administration to negotiate changing the name of the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office” (TECRO) to the “Taiwan Representative Office” (TRO). The original version of the legislation directs the secretary of State to negotiate the name change.

The panel also removed a provision of the bill that would require Senate confirmation for the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director.

Asked about the modifications, Menendez said the changes were “minor” compared to provisions on defense assistance, which the senator described as “the core of the bill” alongside the provisions relating to international forums and economic engagement.

Taiwan’s presidential office thanked the U.S. Senate for its latest show of support for Taiwan, saying the bill will “help promote the Taiwan-U.S. partnership in many ways,” including security and economic cooperation.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202209150005
[2] The Hill: https://thehill.com/policy/international/3643197-senate-panel-advances-taiwan-policy-overhaul/
[3] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-senate-panel-advances-sweeping-taiwan-security-bill-2022-09-14/

Taiwan Commits US$3.2 Billion to U.S. Agricultural Products

On September 14, a visiting Taiwan agricultural mission signed three letters of intent with U.S. exporters to buy American crops worth over US$3 billion in 2023-2024 at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

Witnessed by 28 members of the U.S. Congress and several legislators from Taiwan, the 2022 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission, led by Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture (COA) Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng, signed the pacts with U.S. agricultural industry associations to purchase corn, soybeans, and wheat worth US$$3.2 billion over the next two years.

Taiwan is the 7th largest overseas market for U.S. agricultural products, with a total trade volume of 3.9 billion in 2021. In terms of per capita consumption, Taiwan is the 4th largest consumer of U.S. agricultural products.

Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) delivered remarks at the signing ceremony, reiterating his support for Taiwan and highlighting the strong agriculture trade relationship between North Dakota and Taiwan.

Senators Jim Risch (R-ID) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH), co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, were among those present to witness the ceremony.

Addressing the event, Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s representative to the United States, noted the important role of agriculture in the mooted “U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade.”

The U.S. and Taiwan are scheduled to hold the first round of negotiations this fall on the ambitious 11-area trade initiative with the aim of working toward high-standard trade agreements.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/business/202209150011
[2] Sen. Cramer’s Office: https://www.cramer.senate.gov/news/press-releases/sen-cramer-participates-in-2022-taiwan-agricultural-trade-goodwill-mission-reiterates-support-for-taiwan

Joint Overseas Taiwanese Organizations Call for Full UN Membership for Taiwan in Letter to UN Secretary-General

In a letter dated September 9 to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, the presidents of the joint overseas Taiwanese organizations conclude: “It is the aspiration of overseas Taiwanese to see Taiwan join the UN and all its specialized agencies as a ‘full Member State,’ under the name ‘Taiwan’ and as the newest 194th member of this august body.”

The Presidents state that “When the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) opens on September 13, 2022, the 23.5 million people of Taiwan will again be simply ignored, left out in the cold without legitimate representation.”

They argue that “In 1971, the UNGA Resolution 2758 awarded a seat to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and expelled ‘the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek,’ but did not grant the PRC the right to represent the people of Taiwan, nor did it recognize China’s territorial claim over Taiwan.”

They add that “Chinese attempts to cite this UNGA Resolution to ‘justify’ Taiwan’s exclusion from the UN are therefore absurd and baseless.”

“Meeting all the criteria of statehood under international law, Taiwan has long been an independent sovereign country. It is a proactive major contributor to the international community — a beacon of democracy for countries around the world to emulate.”

They conclude that “The right of Taiwan to fully participate in the international community should not be restricted by China’s political bullying and territorial ambitions. Inclusion of Taiwan in the UN will stabilize the entire Asia-Pacific region and make the United Nations a much more representative world body.”

Adding: “The time is now for the United Nations and the rest of the world to jointly stand up against China and its lawless and out of control bullying of Taiwan, and say: ‘Enough Is Enough!’”

Initiator of the letter, FAPA President Minze Chien Ph.D., adds: “We believe that the 23.5 million people of Taiwan deserve to walk proudly through the front door of the UN and its affiliated organizations under the name ‘Taiwan’ and as a full and new member.”

Dr. Chien continues: “Taiwan is a sovereign independent country and fulfills all conditions for full UN membership. There are NO legal hurdles for Taiwan to join the United Nations. There is just one hurdle and it is a political one — it is called “China.”

[1] FAPA Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FormosanAssociationforPublicAffairs/posts/pfbid02vWmNBnRuPFc5D84AFQvCm5SWKk5UfLBka1WfZEjpLUBBpE6RqFiNSpjfjqL5WqXCl