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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman of our committee for introducing this excellent piece of legislation and for his leadership in our committee.
I am very pleased to speak in favor of this legislation which assists Taiwan, one of our most valued allies, in obtaining observer status at the ICAO, or the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Taiwan is a major hub for international air travel; and, particularly, it serves as the link between Northeast and Southeast Asia and to Europe and the United States. And now that Taiwan has joined the Visa Waiver Program, travel between our two nations will undoubtedly increase.
Almost 1.3 million flights pass over the region each year; but due to the ill advised appeasement of China at the United Nations, Taiwan must receive its international aviation safety and security information secondhand.
Taiwan's exclusion from international organizations like ICAO is a short-sighted and dangerous practice. It ends up hurting the international community as much as it does the Taiwanese people themselves.
Preventing a significant player in aviation like Taiwan from participating in ICAO threatens the entire international community which depends on the application of universal aviation standards.
Unfortunately, attempts to placate China at the feeble United Nations are nothing new and are a reminder that that organization lacks seriousness. China's threat that foreign interference will hurt negotiations with Taiwan to allow its participation in ICAO should be ignored by the U.N.
The U.N. must do what is right for the entire international community, and I urge the organization to put aside its petty politics and work on behalf of the safety of all of the world's citizens.
Mr. Speaker, the Taiwan Relations Act continues to be the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy with our democratic ally, Taiwan; and we must always keep it as the guiding beacon. The next meeting of ICAO is this September, and I expect to see our State Department have a strategy that they will implement to make sure that Taiwan will be at the table this fall.
The friendship between the people of the United States and Taiwan has cemented into one of our most cherished partnerships, and I look forward to the United States Government demonstrating its continued commitment to the people of Taiwan with the passage of this most excellent bill.
I thank the chairman for the time, and I thank him for his leadership on Taiwan through the years.
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