Reassure Taiwan – Rep. Steve Chabot asked Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken

For Immediate Release
Washington DC – April 28, 2016
Contact: (202) 547-3686

Reassure Taiwan – Rep. Steve Chabot asked Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken

On April 28, 2016, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing with Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken as witness.

Long-time friend of Taiwan Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) asked Blinken what Blinken would say in the aftermath of the election of Dr. Tsai Ing-wen “on behalf of the administration to reassure Taiwan that the United States will have its back.”

This here below is the transcript of the exchange. Link to the video of the full hearing can be found in the first comment section to this post.

(1:23:36) REP. STEVE CHABOT (R-OH): Thank you Madame chair.

Let me begin with Taiwan.

Taiwan is going to be swearing in a new president in May. The DPP will be coming back into power.

Taiwan is –I believe- a very important U.S. ally. And I would also expect the PRC, in all likelihood, to act up and try to throw its weight around. They are after all a classic bully and they want to show their displeasure in this election.

They still have 1600 missiles pointed at Taiwan. And as Congressman Rohrabacher has mentioned, China is in the process of building islands, to the great dismay of all their neighbors and they are militarizing those islands now.

And this is all occurring at a time when this administration, unfortunately, is reducing or trying to reduce the size of our military, including our navy, which I think is just a terrible idea.

We should, I think, clearly, first of all, make sure that Taiwan has a sufficient military and modernized, that they are able to keep China from acting out. I think the only time China ever acts is when they think Taiwan is weak, and when they think that the United States lacks the resolve to defend Taiwan.

What would you say on behalf of the administration to reassure Taiwan that the United States will have its back?

TONY BLINKEN: That you very much, Congressman. First of all, I think, Taiwan has given the world a very vivid illustration of what a democratic election is and of what a democratic transition is. That was a very powerful message.

REP. CHABOT: That is a very good point. I agree.

TONY BLINKEN: I met with the new president [Dr. Tsai Ing-wen]. She came to Washington this past summer. We had a very good meeting with her at the State Department. And we have strongly encouraged the Chinese to engage with her and to engage with Taiwan, in a manner of mutual respect and the flexibility to build on the positive developments in cross-Strait relations over the last decade or so. We hope the Chinese will do that.

Second: We very much agree with you that what has given Taiwan the confidence to engage with mainland China, is the support from the United States, including arms sales. We want to make sure, as have previous administrations, that Taiwan cannot be coerced to doing things against the will of its people. I think we notified something like 14 billion dollars in arms sales since 2010. We continue to look very actively at that.

But with regard to our own posture in the region, as said earlier we have now approximately 60% of our navy in the region. We take very seriously that Taiwan must feel confident if it is to engage from a position of strength with the mainland.

The other thing I think is important and I know that you have been a strong advocate of this, Congressman Chabot, is that we want to make sure that Taiwan and the talents of its people are able to be employed around the world against global challenges. And so part of that is make sure that Taiwan can be represented in international organizations. And we have been working very hard on that. To make sure that in organizations for which statehood is not required for membership, they will be allowed in as members and where statehood IS a requirement they will be able to participate irrespective of whether their statehood is recognized.

So, across the board, we have been working to strengthen our ties with the people of Taiwan, and support its efforts.

REP. CHABOT: Okay, thank you!

For complete video of Congressional hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, see:

Rep. Steve Chabot’s remarks start at 1:23:36

Photo Credit: April Brady/Project on Middle East Democracy (Flickr)