101 Years of the Republic of China (ROC)

Floor Speech

By:  Ann Marie Buerkle
Date: Sept. 25, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. BUERKLE. Mr. Speaker, October 10 marks 101 years of the Republic of China, ROC, that now exists on Taiwan.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou was inaugurated for a second and last time on Sunday, May 20. Taiwan limits its presidents to two terms, as do we. But in his already more than four years since first taking office, President Ma has fundamentally altered the dynamic of Taiwan's economic relations with mainland China and by extension, relations with the United States and the rest of the world.

Fresh off his first inauguration in 2008, President Ma launched the first regular non-stop flights across the Taiwan Strait since China's Civil War ended in 1949. These flights, now as many as 558 a week, have made life much easier for Taiwanese working and doing business on the mainland. It's in turn also made life much easier for Americans crossing the Taiwan Strait--be it for work or for pleasure.

But most significantly, in 2010, Taiwan entered into its Economic and Cooperation Framework Agreement, ECFA, with mainland China that eliminated tariffs on 16 percent of Taiwan exports to the mainland. Now that President Ma was reelected with a fresh mandate this past January, more tariff eliminations under ECFA will follow. There will also be further service sector openings in both directions. Most importantly, ECFA, as does President Ma's other cross-Strait trade and investment relaxations, reintegrates Taiwan into Asia's economic supply chain, allowing Taiwan producers to supply global customers in mainland China directly.

The spending power of the millions of mainland Chinese tourists who have visited Taiwan since 2008 has also boosted the island's economy, as well as exposed those same tourists to Taiwan's pluralistic, democratic system. Having now experienced Taiwan's elections firsthand, some mainlanders will demand accountability of their leaders back home as Taiwanese do theirs. Taiwan's elections can serve as an example and milestone for ethnic Chinese worldwide that these universal political freedoms are not somehow incongruous with culture as some mainland autocrats have alleged.

I thus urge my colleagues, on this 101st anniversary of the ROC, to congratulate Taiwan on this century-plus milestone and to applaud its recent trade, investment, and travel openings to neighboring mainland China. It suits Taiwan's economic interests as well as our own.