Congressman Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the following opening statement at today's full committee mark-up of H.R. 2918, the Taiwan Policy Act of 2011 and H.R. 2992 the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act of 2011.
Madam Chairman, thank you for scheduling a markup of these two bills on Taiwan. I am a strong supporter of Taiwan, and both of these bills will bolster our bilateral relationship with an important friend and ally.
H.R. 2992, the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act of 2011, seeks to provide Taiwan with advanced F-16 C/D fighter jets in order to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capability against the increasing military threat from mainland China.
I welcomed the Obama Administration's decision to upgrade Taiwan's existing fleet of F-16 fighters, but view that as only a first step. Taiwan needs more-advanced F-16s to help deter and, if necessary, defend against an attack from China. And it needs them sooner rather than later, as China still has not renounced the use of military force to resolve its long-standing dispute with Taiwan.
When this Committee held a hearing on Taiwan last month, the Administration stated that it had not closed the door to selling new F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan and would continue to evaluate Taipei's interest in acquiring these advanced fighter jets. H.R. 2992 is the logical next step in ensuring Taiwan can maintain a sufficient defensive capability and in satisfying Taiwan's interest in procuring these new fighters.
Members on both sides of the aisle have a strong commitment to maintaining Taiwan's security in the face of the growing Chinese military threat, and this bipartisan bill is a vehicle to express Congress' commitment.
The other Taiwan bill before us, H.R. 2918, the Taiwan Policy Act of 2011--your bill, Madam Chairman--is intended to strengthen and update certain aspects of the U.S.-Taiwan relationship.
I am especially pleased to see that it includes a provision that would allow senior leaders of Taiwan to visit the United States, a problem that has long needed a remedy. Why is it that the President of a democratic partner of the United States is not allowed to visit this country, except as part of transit stops to other countries? It's time that all Taiwanese officials are afforded the proper respect and be allowed to visit the United States.
Your bill, Madam Chairman, also includes provisions to maintain U.S. support for Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations like the World Health Assembly and the International Civil Aviation Organization. I have long been a supporter of Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization, and am pleased to see that this Act continues U.S. policy to ensure Taiwan's continued participation in the WHA and other international organizations in the future.
Both of these bills before the Committee today will continue the strong U.S. support for Taiwan and maintain the close ties between the U.S. and the people of Taiwan. I urge my colleagues to support both pieces of legislation.