Thursday, September 15, 2011

Washington on the move: The Taiwan Policy Act of 2011

A view of the Beinan Cultural Park outside Taitung city. The mock-up house was used by young boys of the Beinan people, I think. They were sent to live there for three years as part of an initiation rite. 

Important legislative actions afoot in Congress. In addition to the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act introduced by Sens. Coryn and Menendez (text of bill), this week Cong. Ros-Lethinen has introduced the Taiwan Policy Act of 2011. According to the Formosa Foundation, which hosts the text of the bill here, it represents an attempt to significantly upgrade US relations with Taiwan. Terri Giles, the Executive Director of the Foundation, sent this around:
The Chair of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ileana Ros-Lethinen (R-FL), today introduced a significant piece of legislation that clarifies the United States policy toward Taiwan and enhances its oversight in the implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act. The Taiwan Policy Act of 2011 is cosponsored by Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL), Robert Andrews (D-NJ) and Dan Burton (R-IN).

The Taiwan Policy Act of 2011 aims to “strengthen and clarify the commercial, cultural and other relations between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan, as codified in the Taiwan Relations Act, and for other purposes.” The bill underscores the policy of the United States is to “support Taiwan, Taiwan’s democracy, and the human rights of its people.” Notably, the bill states that it shall be the policy of the United States to strengthen the Defense of Taiwan, to revitalize trade and investment ties with Taiwan, to support Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the international organization, and to encourage visits by cabinet level officials between both countries.

Taiwan is strategically essential to the United States and this piece of legislation is a vital step in reinforcing our commitment to our democratic partner and ally.

The Formosa Foundation has worked closely with Congresswoman Ros-Lethinen and other members of Congress to bring the important issues of Taiwan policy to the top of the agenda in Washington and to the attention of the American people. In June, Ros-Lehtinen assured over two hundred participants at a Formosa Foundation community event that “it is strongly in America’s national interest to re-energize and upgrade relations between our two peoples and our two great democracies. In my capacity as chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I hope to do just that in the weeks and months ahead.” Today she put her words into action.

We are extremely grateful that Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has introduced this historical bill to call attention to Taiwan’s important to the United States. We urge you to contact your House representative asking for their support of the Taiwan Policy Act of 2011.
DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen spoke at AEI the other day (video). I heard that Sen Inouye, Chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, showed up to greet Tsai at a reception in the Rayburn Room that evening. Could bode well for Congressional movement on the F-16s, and on Taiwan in general. Remember that though it is highly probable no F-16s will be sold, merely working on the issue helps raise Taiwan's profile.

The news of growing pro-Taiwan momentum in Congress was given new urgency by yet another F-5 crash in Taiwan yesterday. This time two of the ancient aircraft were lost. Taiwan's entire fleet of 60 F-5s was grounded as a result.

Apropo: Dean Cheng at Heritage observes the gap between DOD and the Obama Administration in assessing and responding to China's rise. Regrettably, Cheng does not put his finger on the real, urgent problem: ending our wasteful, stupid wars in the Middle East that are literally making the US trade a losing war in Afghanistan for Taiwan. Criminally stupid.
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Bohling said...

I think Taiwan will get the F-16's. Maybe not through this bill, but if either of these bills fail, then congress can start stapling parts of it to Obama's job's bill. Ah, the thrill of American politics.

There was also an article in the TT about a resolution to be put forth in congress to give Taiwan a seat at the UN. How much water this will hold is yet to be seen. But this does raise an interesting issue...

China promises war if Taiwan declares its independence. OK, fine. And regardless if Taiwan does declare or not, your independence is only as far as others are willing to recognize it. So, Taiwan does not declare its independence, others do it for them. To wit, if the US, Canada, and EU all were to recognize Taiwan as an independent and sovereign nation (which they more or less unofficially do already) then what is China to do? Sever all diplomatic ties with all those nations? I seriously think not. Things will be tense for a while, but eventually they will give. Think about Kosovo. Yeah, Serbia is nothing compared to the PRC, but Serbia wants into the EU and has to make nice. If the PRC wants to continue its roll in the international community and continue its economic rise, then they will play along too, if begrudgingly.

Readin said...

I worry that attempting to update the TRA could be a mistake. Once the legislation really starts getting worked on and amendments are offered, the Chinese lobbyists and the lobbyists of companies that want to do business in China (but I repeat myself) are likely to start bringing on the money and the pressure, and the result may be more friendly to China than the original TRA.

As for the wars in Afganistan, it hasn't been cheap but it also hasn't been as expensive as a lot of other stupid things the US has done and continues to do. Even if today some new found source of revenue were found that could pay for the entire cost of the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan and the illegal war in Libya, we would still be the brokest nation on the planet.

10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan cost less than 4 trillion dollars ( The national debt is 14 trillion dollars. The cost of the wars over 10 years has been about 0.4 trillion per year. That's less than the cost of the new stimulus Obama has announced to be thrown after the money spent on his previous failed stimuli.

Readin said...

@Bohling "your independence is only as far as others are willing to recognize it"

Um no. Your independence is only so far as your freedom to act in your own affairs without interference from others or reliance on others. Saying your independence depends on others is contradictory.

No modern country is truly economically independent - the modern countries all depend on trade and are constrained by the need to maintain trading relationships.

Some modern countries are militarily independent in the sense that they don't need to rely on others, but some are not.

On the other hand, most modern countries - including Taiwan, are independent in the sense that no one interferes in their internal affairs.

Taken together, Taiwan's independence is on a similar level with most other modern countries. Taiwan depends on economic relationships. Taiwan depends partially on the US for military protection, and Taiwan has control over its own behavior both internally and internationally.

The difficulty that Taiwan has is not a question of independence, it is a question of not being shunned.

les said...

Mmm. Is this really a move to bolster support for Taiwan, or just one to help Matong in his election campaigning?

Michael Turton said...

10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan cost less than 4 trillion dollars

Four trillion that could have been spent on our infrastructure, revitalizing manufacturing, supporting scientific research. Instead we just flushed it down the drain.

Readin said...

"Four trillion that could have been spent on our infrastructure, revitalizing manufacturing, supporting scientific research. Instead we just flushed it down the drain."

Or we could have spent it on rebuilding cities after further terrorist attacks planned and coordinated from Afghanistan. Who knows?

And if we had not spent it on the wars, there is no reason to believe we would have spent it on "infrastructure, revitalizing manufacturing, supporting scientific research." We're not 4 trillion in debt, we're 14 trillion in debt, and we haven't spent that other 10 trillion on "infrastructure, revitalizing manufacturing, supporting scientific research." Instead we found other ways to waste money - too numerous to count.

Herman said...

Hmm...I was at that park in Taitung a few months ago, and I think we were told then that that structure was used to store food. Guess any plausible explanation will do.

Anonymous said...

66 F-16s isn't going to make any difference in the relative military power of Taiwan and the PRC. The 66 F-16's is just a conduit to deliver $8 billion in Taiwanese taxpayer money into the US economy. Taiwan buying $8 billion in cracker jacks has the same effect.
If I were a Taiwanese taxpayer, I would not give the US NT$1 without an explicit guarantee of protection in the event of PRC attack.

Anonymous said...

Of possible interest:

"The Obama administration has warned that a victory by Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese opposition leader, in the island’s January presidential election could raise tensions with China."

Michael Turton said...

Thanks, Ampotan. Much buzz on that one I am still digesting.