2023-0706: Visiting U.S. Rep. Hern Hopes for Taiwan Independence; Taiwan VP Lai’s Plan to Preserve Taiwan Strait Peace; U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

It Would Be an Honor to See Taiwan Independence: Visiting U.S. Rep. Hern

Visiting U.S. Representative Kevin Hern (R-OK) said he hopes to see Taiwan as an independent and sovereign country one day, during a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on July 4.

Rep. Hern, chairman of the U.S. House Republican Study Committee (RSC), is leading a delegation of six RSC members to visit Taiwan from July 3-7.

“Support for Taiwan as an independent and sovereign nation has been one of the founding principles of the RSC and has remained a top priority for 50 years,” Hern said.

As the U.S. celebrated its Independence Day, Hern said: “What an honor it would be to one day soon see Taiwan experience the same independence that our original 13 colonies enjoyed in the early days.”

He thanked Taiwanese for “wanting the liberties and freedoms that can only be truly experienced as an independent nation.”

The relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan enjoys support across the political spectrum, and “all Americans of all walks of life understand the importance of our friendship,” Hern said.

President Tsai expressed the hope that Taiwan and the U.S. would soon sign an agreement on avoiding double taxation, arguing that such a deal would encourage bilateral investment and trade cooperation and create more opportunities for businesses from both countries.

Tsai urged the RSC delegation — which, besides Chairman Hern, also includes U.S. Representatives Burgess Owens (R-UT), Mike Flood (R-NE), Mike Collins (R-GA), Russell Fry (R-SC) and Keith Self (R-TX) — to “lend its support” on the issue.

Earlier on July 4, the RSC delegation also met Taiwan Vice President Lai Ching-te (or William Lai), who thanked delegation members for showing support for Taiwan through the visit.

Taiwan has been bolstering its national defense capabilities and hopes that the U.S. would continue to provide Taiwan with the weapons necessary for the nation to defend itself, Lai said, adding that he also hopes the weapons would be delivered on time.

Founded in 1973, the RSC is a study group comprising 175 members of the Republican Party in the U.S. House of Representatives, the largest ideological caucus in the Congress.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/07/05/2003802688
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202307040013

Taiwan VP Lai Spells Out Plan to Preserve Peace in Taiwan Strait

Taiwan Vice President and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential nominee Lai Ching-te (or William Lai) spelled out his plan for preserving peace in the Taiwan Strait in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on July 4.

Lai’s article proposed four main “pillars” of peace, beginning with the need for Taiwan to continue building its defense capabilities, in order to reduce “the risk of armed conflict” by “raising the stakes and the costs for Beijing.”

Expanding on the reforms made by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Lai said he would expedite Taiwan’s transition into an asymmetric fighting force, while also focusing on civil defense and greater cooperation with partners and allies.

The second pillar was the notion that “economic security is national security,” he wrote.

Despite Taiwan’s economic achievements, trade dependencies toward China have created vulnerabilities that can be exploited through economic coercion, he said.

To ease that dependency, Taiwan must not only support its local industries, but also “foster secure supply chains while pursuing trade agreements [with other countries] that encourage trade diversification,” he said.

Third, Lai emphasized the importance of forming partnerships with democracies around the world.

He argued that the “record numbers” of visits in recent years by parliamentarians, NGOs, think tanks and official delegations have shown China that despite its pressure, Taiwan does not stand alone.

The fourth component of Lai’s plan was a commitment to “steady and principled cross-strait leadership.”

His top priorities in that area would be “pragmatism and consistency,” despite moves by Beijing to ratchet up military and economic pressure on Taiwan and cut off established lines of cross-Taiwan Strait communication, he said.

“I will support the cross-strait status quo,” which is in the best interests of Taiwan and the international community, he said.

“I will [also] never rule out the possibility of dialogue [with China] without preconditions, based on the principles of reciprocity and dignity,” Lai said.

Lai is one of three candidates running in Taiwan’s January 13, 2024 Presidential election, and has led the field in most recent opinion polls.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202307050003
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/07/06/2003802755

U.S. Approves Arms Sales of US$440 Million to Taiwan

On June 29, the Pentagon said that the U.S. government had approved two separate arms sales packages to Taiwan with a combined value of up to US$440 million, which would include 30 mm ammunition and spare parts for military wheeled vehicles and weapons. It was the Biden administration’s 10th announcement of arms sales to Taiwan.

A package of US$332.2 million was approved for the potential sale to Taiwan of 30mm High Explosive Incendiary-Tracer rounds, 30mm multi-purpose rounds, 30mm training rounds and related equipment, among other items, according to a statement by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

A second package of US$108 million will include spare and repair parts for military wheeled vehicles, weapons and other related elements of logical support, the DSCA said in another statement.

The proposed sales are consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, and they serve U.S. national, economic and security interests by modernizing Taiwan’s armed forces and maintaining Taiwan’s credible defensive capability, the DSCA said.

In Taipei, the Taiwan Presidential Office thanked the U.S. for honoring its commitments to Taiwan’s security by providing the nation with defensive weapons in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act and the “Six Assurances.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said that the sales would boost the nation’s resilience against China’s “expanding threats of military and gray zone tactics,” which it said has posed “severe threats” to Taiwan.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202306300005
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/07/01/2003802463