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Public Statements

Reaffirming Unwavering Commitment to Taiwan Relations Act

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


REAFFIRMING UNWAVERING COMMITMENT TO TAIWAN RELATIONS ACT -- (House of Representatives - July 14, 2004)

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 462) reaffirming unwavering commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act, and for other purposes.

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) and the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos) each will control 20 minutes.

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, is either gentleman opposed to the bill?

Mr. LANTOS. No, Mr. Speaker. I am strongly in support of this legislation.

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I seek time in opposition.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul) will control 20 minutes in opposition.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith).

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that my time be equally divided with the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos).

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

There was no objection.

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. Con. Res. 462, a resolution reaffirming the unwavering support of the Congress for the Taiwan Relations Act. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act, one of Congress' most important and enduring pieces of legislation. Over the past quarter century, the Act has served as the foundation of the United States' relationship with the people of Taiwan and has ensured the island's security. On this anniversary, it is fitting and appropriate for the Congress to review the cross-strait issue and reassess the needs of our friends in Taiwan.

In contrast to many other pieces of 25-year-old legislation, the Taiwan Relations Act has exceeded expectations. The Act has allowed the United States to maintain its close ties with the people of Taiwan while actively engaging Asia's rising power, the People's Republic of China, on a myriad of fronts, including human rights. In doing so, the measure has been important to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and throughout the entire Western Pacific region.

The Taiwan Relations Act has also played an indirect role in promoting democracy in Taiwan by providing the conditions of external security that have allowed the people of Taiwan to focus on internal reform and democratization.

In the years since Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, Taiwan has developed into a lively and successful democracy, a tribute to the courage and determination of the island's remarkable people. The 1996 presidential election in Taiwan was the first time in China's 5 millennia of recorded history that a fully democratically elected government assumed office. The election of 2000, which resulted in a peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another, evidenced a deepening democratic system. Two months ago, Taiwan completed its third direct presidential election.

The U.S. has watched this island nation develop into a mature, robust, vibrant democracy that respects human rights and civil liberties. Knowledge of our shared values has strengthened the commitment of Americans to stand by the people of Taiwan.

In contrast to Taiwan, Mr. Speaker, the mainland has failed to implement meaningful political reform, and the PRC's respect for fundamental human rights has deteriorated. Furthermore, the People's Republic of China has adopted a more aggressive military posture towards Taiwan. Over the past 5 years, the PRC has dramatically increased its stockpile of weapons. Today, China has approximately 500 missiles aimed at Taiwan, a matter of grave concern to the freedom-loving people of Taiwan and to all of us here in the United States. Given China's refusal to renounce the use of force against Taiwan, the arms buildup is a threat to peace and security in the Taiwan Strait and to the stability of the entire region.

Changes in cross-strait relations, Mr. Speaker, including democratization of Taiwan and an arms buildup by the People's Republic of China, requires that the United States continue to strengthen its support for the people and the democracy of Taiwan. H. Con. Res. 462 reinforces America's commitment to help Taiwan defend itself from outside coercion and intimidation. Continuing the tradition established by the Taiwan Relations Act, H. Con. Res. 462 urges the President and the Congress to reevaluate the defense needs of Taiwan and encourages the government of Taiwan to devote sufficient financial resources to defense of its island.

[Time: 20:15]

The resolution also, Mr. Speaker, encourages greater interaction between Taiwan and the U.S. with the goal of strengthening democracy on the island. Visits between the officials of the U.S. and Taiwan are not inconsistent with the One-China Policy. As such, officials of Taiwan should not be discouraged from visiting the United States.

Mr. Speaker, it is my hope that increasingly warmer cross-strait relations will ultimately transcend the need for the Taiwan Relations Act, and resolutions such as this one would not be needed. In time, the democracy which Taiwan has cultivated can take further root and flourish throughout all of China. However, until that day comes, resolutions such as this one are necessary to clearly promote peace and security in the region and to ensure continuing democracy in Taiwan.

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

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute to respond briefly, and I think it needs to be responded to.

The Taiwan Relations Act made it very clear in section 3 that there is no ambiguity about the policy. It is very clear to make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.

Nobody in their right mind or in their wildest dreams would ever conceive of Taiwan attacking the mainland. It is all about a credible deterrence so that that dialogue between Beijing and Taipei can go forward, and that is why I think that this law has been so important in helping to maintain that protective cocoon, if you will, so that this dialogue again could go forward without an invasion from the People's Republic of China.

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

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, we have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Renzi). The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith) that the House suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res. 462.

The question was taken.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds of those present have voted in the affirmative.

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed.

END

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