Honoring the 34th Anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act

Floor Speech

By:  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Date: April 10, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, today, on the 34th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, I want to take a moment to recognize this landmark legislation, the special relationship that exists between the United States and Taiwan, and the exceptional work by this Congress to reinforce the bond between our peoples. Yesterday also marked another important date in U.S..Taiwan relations: the 11th anniversary of the founding of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus. Since April 9, 2002, the Taiwan Caucus has grown into one of the most prominent caucuses in Congress with almost 140 current members, and has led the way in strengthening diplomatic, security, and economic relations between our two nations.

Since this Congress came together 34 years ago to pass the Taiwan Relations Act, the legislation has constituted the cornerstone of our unique relationship with one of the world's most vibrant democracies. For 30 years, the United States recognized the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the legitimate representative of the Chinese people. Yet, in 1979, the Carter administration switched sides and recognized the People's Republic of China, and at the same time derecognized the Republic of China (Taiwan). In an effort to counter this act of injustice, a unified United States Congress came together to pass the Taiwan Relations Act. To this day, our great nations continue to prosper through mutually beneficial trade relations, shared security interests, and the policies codified by the Taiwan Relations Act.

Mr. Speaker, while recognizing the accomplishments of the Taiwan Relations Act, we must also recognize the need to strengthen our commitment to Taiwan through expanded diplomatic, security, and trade ties. Earlier this year, I was proud to introduce, with my colleagues, the co-chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart, John Carter, Albio Sires, Gerald Connolly, the Taiwan Policy Act, which seeks to accomplish these goals. If enacted, our proposed legislation would permit Taiwan's leaders to meet with U.S. officials in all executive branches, authorize the transfer of decommissioned Perry class guided missile frigates, and support the sale of F16 C/D fighter jets to the Armed Forces of Taiwan. With the growing antagonism of North Korea and the ever expanding territorial ambitions of China, our alliance with the democratic nation of Taiwan is even more important.

In 2012, as our 11th largest trading partner, 16th largest export market, and 11th largest import market, Taiwan and the United States shared in $63.2 billion in total trade. It is clear that Taiwan is already a close and valuable trade partner for the United States but there is more work to be done. We are glad that TIFA talks were resumed and that the most recent round was concluded in a satisfying fashion. As a next step, our U.S. Trade Representative should begin negotiations on a Bilateral Investment Agreement. A free trade agreement with Taiwan should be our ultimate goal and it is my hope that we can begin negotiations in the near future. The United States should also support Taiwan receiving observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization.

We, as a nation, are fortunate to have Taiwan as an ally, friend, and one of our largest trading partners. Taiwan is a nation we truly can depend upon; a people who share the same dreams and aspirations as we do here in the United States. Today, we remember our predecessors here in the United States Congress who created the Taiwan Relations Act, as well as the founding members of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, who have helped the relationship between our two nations blossom into an enduring partnership.