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Reaffirming Unwavering Commitment to Taiwan Relations Act

Location: Washington, DC


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.


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.


Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

(Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I would like to start off by saying that I really do not have a lot of disagreement with what the chairman has to say, because I certainly think we should be friends with Taiwan. I believe our goals are very similar. It is just that the approach I have would be quite different.

I happen to believe that we have ignored for too long in this country and in this body the foreign policy that was designed by our Founders, a foreign policy of nonintervention. I think it is better for us. I think it is healthy in all ways, both financially and in that it keeps us out of wars, and we are allowed to build friendships with all the nations of the world. The politics of nonintervention should be given some serious consideration.

Usually, the argument given me for that is that 200 years ago or 250 years ago things were different. Today we have had to go through the Cold War and communism; and, therefore, we are a powerful Nation and we have an empire to protect; and we have this moral obligation to police the world and take care of everybody.

But, Mr. Speaker, my answer to that is somewhat like the notion that we no longer have to pay attention to the Ten Commandments or the Bill of Rights. If principles were correct 200 years ago or 250 years ago, they should be correct today. So if a policy of friendship and trade with other nations and nonintervention were good 250 years ago, it should be good today.

I certainly think the Taiwan Relations Act qualifies as an entangling alliance, and that is what we have been warned about: "Do not get involved in entangling alliances." It gets us so involved, we get in too deep, and then we end up with a military answer to too many of our problems. I think that is what has happened certainly in the last 50 years.

I essentially have four objections to what we are doing. One is a moral objection. I will not dwell on the first three and I will not dwell on this one. But I do not believe one generation of Americans has a moral right to obligate another generation, because, in many ways, when we make this commitment, this is not just a friendly commitment; this is weapons and this is defense.

Most people interpret the Taiwan Relations Act as a commitment for our troops to go in and protect the Taiwanese if the Chinese would ever attack. Although it is not explicit in the act, many people interpret it that way. But I do not believe that we or a generation 25 years ago has the moral right to obligate another generation to such an overwhelming commitment, especially if it does not involve an attack on our national security. Some say that if Taiwan would be attacked, it would be. But, quite frankly, it is a stretch to say that settling that dispute over there has something to do with an attack on our national security.

Economics is another issue. We are running out of money; and these endless commitments, military commitments and commitments overseas, cannot go on forever. Our national debt is going up between $600 billion and $700 billion a year, so eventually my arguments will win out, because we are going to run out of money and this country is going to go broke. So there is an economic argument against that.

Also, looking for guidance in the Constitution. It is very clear that the Constitution does not give us this authority to assume responsibility for everybody, and to assume the entire responsibility for Taiwan is more than I can read into the Constitution.

But the issue I want to talk about more than those first three is really the practical approach to what we are doing. I happen to believe that the policy of the One-China Policy does not make a whole lot of sense. We want Taiwan to be protected, so we say we have a One-China Policy, which occurred in 1982. But in order to say we have a One-China Policy, then we immediately give weapons to Taiwan to defend against China.

So this, to me, just does not quite add up. If we put arms in Taiwan, why would we not expect the Chinese to put arms in opposition, because they are only answering what we are doing? What happened when the Soviets went to Cuba? They put arms there. We did not like that. What would happen if the Chinese went into Cuba or Mexico? We are not going to like that. So I think this part is in conflict with what the National Relations Act says, because we are seeking a peaceful resolution of this.

So I would urge my colleagues to be cautious about this. I know this will be overwhelmingly passed; but, nevertheless, it is these types of commitments, these types of alliances that we make that commit us to positions that are hard to back away from. This is why we get into these hot wars, these shooting wars, when really I do not think it is necessary.

There is no reason in the world why we cannot have friendship with China and with Taiwan. But there is something awfully inconsistent with our One-China Policy, when at the same time we are arming part of China in order to defend itself. The two just do not coexist.

Self-determination, I truly believe, is worth looking at. Self-determination is something that we should champion. Therefore, I am on the strong side of Taiwan in determining what they want by self-determination. But what do we do? Our administration tells them they should not have a referendum on whether or not they want to be independent and have self-determination.

So in one sense we try to help them; and, in the other sense, we say do not do it.

I am just arguing that we do not have to desert Taiwan. We can be very supportive of their efforts, and we can do it in a much more peaceful way and at least be a lot more consistent.

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. PAUL. I yield to the gentleman from California.

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend for yielding.

I just want to correct the impression the gentleman left with his observation, which implied that Taiwan is getting economic aid from the United States.

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I will answer that.

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I have not yet made my point. Taiwan is getting no economic aid from the United States.

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, that is correct. I did not say that, so the gentleman has implied that; and that is incorrect that I said it.

I do know that it is a potential military base for us, because when I was in the Air Force, on more than one occasion I landed on Taiwan. So they are certainly a close military ally.

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


Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Very briefly, let me mention that this last election was marred by news revealing that there was an assassination attempt. It has been very much in the news in question about the authenticity of this assassination. And, actually, the election itself is believed to be under a cloud with many people in Taiwan. So to paint too rosy a picture on that, I am pleased that they are making progress, but it is not quite as rosy as it has been portrayed here.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Minnesota (Ms. McCollum).


Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Once again, I want to make the point about the inconsistency of our policy. In 1979, the Taiwan Relations Act was put in place mainly because we orchestrated getting them kicked out of the U.N., so we had to do something, so we passed this act, and we ended official relations. We do not have ambassadors to Taiwan. That is part of this absurdity of the one China policy. Yet, at the same time, we feel this obligation and this commitment to make sure they have these weapons for defense. I mean, it just does not add up.

All we need is a consistent pattern saying that people have a right to self-determination and encourage it and get out of the way. Those people over there in Taiwan right now, they are investing in China. The natural courses of events will take care of it. We have the South Koreans wanting to deal with the North Koreans, and we tend to get in the way; and here we have the Taiwanese who are investing, and they would like to work some of this out, and too often we get in the way.

Now, the chairman mentioned a phrase in the resolution in defense of his position, but it is one that I am concerned about. It says, in section 3, requires the United States Government to make available defense articles. We do not have any choice. We make an absolute commitment that we are going to put those weapons there, and we are looking for trouble. I mean, this is how you start wars, putting weapons in there.

Once again, what if they did that in Cuba? What did we do when Russia did it in Cuba? Can we not have any understanding or empathy of what happens? And what if they did it in Mexico? We would have no part of it.

So this, to me, just does not make any sense.

And then in the next phrase, I am also concerned about this, and it restates the position in the Taiwan Relations Act, whereas the Taiwan Relations Act requires the United States to maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force.

Now, we have to think about that. Most people interpret that as, we are on our way, the boys are ready to go. No matter how thinly we are spread around the world, the capacity is now currently interpreted that, yes, we would come to their aid, and it sounds like people in support of this resolution would support that. But that is not the way this country is supposed to go to war. And this, to me, is a preamble, if there is a skirmish or a fight over there and it is going to be bigger because we are there and providing the weapons.

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

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel), my distinguished colleague on the Committee on International Relations.

Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time, and I rise in strong support of this resolution.

We look at Taiwan today and, as the gentleman from California pointed out before, it is a success story. Taiwan is a democracy. Taiwan has an economy that is the 16th largest in the world. I come from the premise that we should be supportive of countries that are supportive of us, and Taiwan has been a good friend of the United States and has shown that it is a true democracy.

I had the honor of meeting with President Chen in New York several months ago, and I have always been a great admirer of a country that took a system that was autocratic and undemocratic and transformed it into a very democratic country.

Now the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 was crafted very delicately because, yes, we do have a one China policy, but we do not want to abandon our friends in Taiwan. Therefore, I believe it is the responsibility of our country to ensure that the people of Taiwan have the capability not to be overrun by anyone else and to have the capability to defend themselves.

Now, in the resolution, it says that the Department of Defense report, our Department of Defense report entitled Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China dated July 30, 2003, documents, and I am reading, that the government of the People's Republic of China is seeking coercive military options to resolve the Taiwan issue and, as of the date of the report, has deployed approximately 450 short-range ballistic missiles against Taiwan and is adding 75 missiles per year to this arsenal; whereas the Taiwan Relations Act requires the U.S. to maintain the capacity to resist any force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people of Taiwan.

This is what the Taiwan Relations Act commits us to do. It is what we should do. It is right. It is proper. We stand with the people of Taiwan and their democratic ways, and I am proud to be a part of reaffirming the unwavering commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act by the United States Congress.

Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, we have no additional requests for time. We yield back the balance of our time, and I urge all of my colleagues to support this legislation.

Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Let me just restate my general position, because my defense is that of a foreign policy of nonintervention, sincerely believing it is in the best interests of our people and the world that we get less involved militaristically.

Once again, I would like to make the point that if it is a true and correct principle because of its age, it is not negated. If it is a true principle and worked 200 years ago or 400 years ago, it is still a principle today; and it should not be discarded.

I would like to just close with quoting from the Founders. First, very simply, from Jefferson. His advice was, "Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none."

John Quincy Adams: "Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be. But she goes," and "she" is referring to us, the United States, "but she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example."

And our first President. He is well-known for his farewell address, and in that address he says, "Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing."

Force gets us nowhere. Persuasion is the answer. Peace and commerce is what we should pursue.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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