1203: Abe’s Remarks on Defending Taiwan, Promoting Ties with Taiwan Act, Taiwan Preclearance Act

Japan and U.S. Could Not Stand By if China Invaded Taiwan: Abe

A military crisis over Taiwan would pose a serious threat to Japan and would be an emergency for the Japan-U.S. alliance, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned, urging China to think twice before invading Taiwan.

Given Japan’s proximity to Taiwan, an armed invasion of Taiwan would inevitably pose “a serious threat” to Japan, Abe said in an online speech on December 1. Japan is host to major U.S. military bases (including on the southern island of Okinawa, a short flight from Taiwan), which would be crucial for any U.S. support during a Chinese invasion.

“An emergency of Taiwan will be an emergency for Japan, and therefore an emergency for the Japan-U.S. alliance,” Abe said, adding that Beijing’s leadership, in particularly Chinese President Xi Jinping, should not misunderstand this clear stance.

A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would also lead to “economic suicide” for China despite it being one of the world’s top economies, and significantly affect the world economy given China’s close economic and trade ties with the rest of the world, Abe warned.

That is why maintaining cross-Taiwan Strait peace is in the interests of all parties involved, Abe said. He called on the democratic world to prevent a Chinese invasion by standing together and jointly urging Xi and the Chinese Communist Party “not to choose the wrong path.”

“A stronger Taiwan, a thriving Taiwan, and a Taiwan that guarantees freedom and human rights are also in Japan’s interests. Of course, this is also in the interests of the whole world,” he said.

Abe also reiterated his support for Taiwan’s bid to join the Tokyo-led international trade bloc, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). “The role of the [CPTPP] in maintaining and strengthening the rules-based international order is important. Taiwan is more than qualified to participate,” he said.

Abe served as prime minister of Japan and president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. He is the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history. Despite stepping down as prime minister last year due to health concerns, Abe is still head of the largest faction of the ruling party and remains influential.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202112010003
[2] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/former-pm-abe-says-japan-us-could-not-stand-by-if-china-attacked-taiwan-2021-12-01/

“Promoting Ties with Taiwan Act” Introduced to Help Taiwan Expand Foreign Ties

On November 23, Reps. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) and Scott Peters (D-CA) introduced the “Promoting Ties with Taiwan Act” (H.R.6069), which seeks to help Taiwan develop relations with other countries amid China’s coercive actions designed to isolate the country.

This bipartisan bill aims to make it the policy of the U.S. government to use its diplomatic influence and reputation to help Taiwan expand connections with nations and partners around the world.

The bill would require the U.S. secretary of state to develop a strategy to help Taiwan foster new bonds of friendship and trade connections around the world to prevent its isolation, the representatives said.

Within 180 days after the passage of the bill, for instance, the secretary of state would be required to submit a strategy to Congress, including an evaluation of staffing and other resources needed to implement the new policy on Taiwan.

Within one year of the submission of the strategy, the secretary of state must submit a report to Congress detailing actions taken to carry out the strategy, according to the act, which has won support from 20 House representatives across party lines.

“Taiwan is a valued friend and an important trading partner for the United States. I’m proud to propose concrete steps that our government can take towards encouraging similar relationships between Taiwan and other countries around the world,” said Rep. Fischbach in a statement.

“Peace in the Taiwan Strait is an enduring security interest for the United States, Taiwan, allies, and partners committed to a rules-based international order that promotes the prosperity and interests of all,” said Rep. Peters.

The representatives argued that once Taiwan is isolated and weakened, it would be easy prey for a Chinese invasion.

They noted that Taiwan, which has full diplomatic ties with 15 nations and economic and cultural missions in over 50 nations, is increasingly isolated as China has succeeded in recent years in pressuring several countries into switching diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.

In addition, they said, Lithuania announced in this July that it would open a “Taiwanese Representative Office” (TRO) in its capital and has since faced incredible pressure including threats of economic sanctions from China.

The representatives said they hoped the bill would build on the foundation of the “TAIPEI Act of 2019” passed by Congress, which also aimed to support Taiwan’s international presence.

FAPA President Minze Chien stated: “Taiwanese Americans are excited and grateful for U.S. efforts to bring Taiwan out of its diplomatic isolation. Next, it behooves the U.S. to normalize diplomatic relations with Taiwan itself.”

[1] Focus Taiwan:https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202111260015
[2] Rep. Fischbach’s Office: https://fischbach.house.gov/press-releases?ID=3EE38508-8DAA-44E2-8852-FB97C6262CBB

“Taiwan Preclearance Act” Introduced to Move Forward with Preclearance Facility in Taiwan

On December 2, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced the “Taiwan Preclearance Act” (S.3312), which would require a report on establishing a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Preclearance facility in Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport to increase tourism between the U.S. and Taiwan while also stationing CBP officers in Taiwan.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Rick Scott (R-FL), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS). Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

The bill requires the secretary of homeland security to submit a report within 180 days after the enactment of this act to describe the plan and analyze the feasibility and advisability for the establishment of a preclearance program at Taiwan’s airport.

The Department of Homeland Security will also need to assess the impacts the program will have on trade between the U.S. and Taiwan, the tourism industry in the U.S., potential market access to the Indo-Pacific region, and government-to-government collaboration available in Taiwan.

A preclearance program at Taoyuan International Airport would signal Taiwan’s importance to the U.S. and compliance with international aviation rules, according to the bill.

“Taiwan is a leading democracy, a vital partner of the United States, and the perfect place for America’s first preclearance facility in the Indo-Pacific,” Sen. Hawley said in a statement, adding that the act will strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations and help maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“I’m excited to introduce this important measure in the House,” Rep. Cammack said, adding that “Taiwan is one of our most important allies and an essential economic partner with shared values and security priorities. This new pre-clearance facility will ensure easier, safer travel between Taiwan and the United States—something that is long overdue.”

Currently, all of the preclearance facilities abroad are located in North America, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East, including Canada, Ireland, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Aruba, and the United Arab Emirates, with more than 600 officers and agriculture specialists stationed at 16 preclearance locations, according to the CBP website.

In 2012, Taiwan was included in the United States’ Visa Waiver Program, which allows Taiwanese passport holders to enter and remain in the U.S. for up to 90 days.

In 2017, Taiwan became the 12th country in the world to be eligible for the Global Entry Program, which expedites immigration and customs clearance and pre-approval.

A joint letter to Troy Miller, head of CBP, was co-written by bipartisan U.S. Congress members this March in support of Taiwan’s application to join the preclearance program.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202112030012
[2] Sen. Hawley’s Office: https://www.hawley.senate.gov/hawley-colleagues-introduce-bill-move-forward-preclearance-facility-taiwan