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Taiwanese Self-Defense Capability

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SHERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?

There was no objection.

Mr. SHERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution and yield myself as much time as I may consume.

I would like to thank my distinguished colleague, the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, for introducing this important resolution and Chairman Lantos, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, for moving this to the floor.

When it comes to military sales to Taiwan, U.S. policy is clear: We must ensure that the thriving democracy of Taiwan has the capacity necessary to defend itself from outside threats.

We in the United States provide defensive military equipment to Taiwan, not just because it is right to aid our democratic friends, but because it is the law of the land under the Taiwan Relations Act. The Taiwan Relations Act, which has been the core of our policy toward Taiwan for almost 3 decades, also states clearly that the United States should base its decision on whether to supply defensive military equipment to Taiwan solely on the basis of the security needs of the Taiwanese military, not on the basis of political concerns.

In the context of these guiding principles, the administration currently has before it a decision on whether to sell F-16C/D fighters to Taiwan, fighters which Taiwan has expressed a clear interest in purchasing and for whose purchase they have budgeted $488 million in their 2007 defense budget and another $764 million in their budget for 2008.

The answer of the United States should be obvious. We should agree to sell the fighters without delay. Yet the administration has dragged its feet and failed even to respond to our Taiwanese friends; and this, in spite of the fact that under Taiwanese laws the funds for the fighters will no longer be available after October 31 of this year. If we do not offer to sell the planes by that date, the rules governing Taiwanese defense spending require that these funds be deleted from their budget.

Some have argued that this delay is justified because in a tense political season in Taiwan, the United States does not want to be seen as taking sides in the upcoming Taiwanese election. This assertion is wrongheaded and shortsighted in the extreme. This resolution in no way indicates support for one political party or another.

Furthermore, under the Taiwan Relations Act, we are supposed to make our decision based upon the needs of the Taiwanese military, not based on some argument that we would be falsely seen as supporting one political party or another, which, of course, is hardly the case if we decide to follow our own law and provide the Taiwanese military with the planes they need for military security.

I support this resolution and the sale of the F-16C/Ds to Taiwan so that the people of Taiwan can protect their democracy and to advance our security interests in East Asia. My support does not in any way indicate support for any candidate in Taiwan for any elected office, nor would selling these planes or agreeing to sell them indicate the support of the United States Government for any particular political party or candidate.

There are still others who claim that the F-16 sale, and this resolution, will upset the balance of the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan already has F-16 aircraft, so these additional planes will hardly upset the balance between Taiwan and China.

Moreover, no one puts forward the idea that Taiwan is today going to invade the mainland. It is obvious that the weapons Taiwan acquires are for defense, not for offense, and so a country acquiring military weapons to defend itself is not upsetting the balance of power but, rather, preserving the military status quo, preserving stability and peace.

I would also point out that the Taiwan Relations Act and our arms sales under this act have been instrumental in maintaining peace and security across the Taiwan Straits and in East Asia for 30 years.

Under this peace, Taiwan developed from authoritarian rule into a robust and lively democracy. Taiwan has asked our assistance in defending itself, and it deserves from us the respect of a prompt response.

I strongly support this resolution and encourage my colleagues to do the same.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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