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Pacific Times

Washington, DC – Today, May 1,2024  U.S. Representative Young Kim (CA-40), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific, delivered opening remarks at her subcommittee hearing titled, “From 1979 to 2024: Evaluating the Taiwan Relations Act and Assessing the Future of U.S.-Taiwan Relations.” 

Congresswoman Kim’s as follows,

This year we celebrate 45 years of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), known as the TRA, a monumental and unique piece of legislation that has guided U.S. bilateral relations with Taiwan. There is no other legislation that guides bilateral relations with another country quite this way. This legislation is one of the reasons why the U.S. is uniquely positioned to lead.   

Since the TRA became law, Taiwan has demonstrated to the world time and time again its importance as a vital contributor to global peace and prosperity.   

From manufacturing the most advanced semiconductors, to providing health and humanitarian assistance, to providing a model of democracy—Taiwan is critically important democratic partner of the U.S. and likeminded allies.  

Yet today, Taiwan is possibly the biggest geopolitical flashpoint in the world. In his meeting with President Biden in December, Chairman Xi Jinping told President Biden that Beijing will reunify Taiwan, and U.S. intelligence suggests that he has directed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to be ready to take Taiwan by force in 2027.   

As the PLA steps up aggression in the Taiwan Strait, it is important that Congress carefully examines the TRA and ensure that the U.S. is diplomatically, economically, and militarily prepared for the Taiwan contingency. The fate of Taiwan affects not only the 23 million people living on the island, but every American.   

In February of 1954, the U.S. Senate ratified a Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan. That treaty obligated the United States to act if Taiwan suffered an armed attack. U.S. military presence on the island reached nearly 100,000 troops at its peak.   

In 1978, President Carter announced that the United States would formally recognize Communist China and sever diplomatic and military relations with Taiwan- a move Congress strongly disapproved.   

In fact, Senator Goldwater sued the Carter Administration for ending the treaty without the consent of Congress. It was Congress that stepped in to ensure basic relations with the people of Taiwan.   

On an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis, the House and Senate passed the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979—14 days from introduction to passing both chambers, and just within months of President Carter cutting diplomatic and military ties to Taiwan.   

Through the TRA, Congress ensured normal relations with Taiwan would continue and importantly put several requirements on the Executive Branch.   

I want to emphasize three of them:  

  • “To provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character;”  
  • “To maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan;” and 
  • “To make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.”   

Congress doubled down on the U.S. position that in establishing diplomatic relations with China, any issue between China and Taiwan would have to be resolved peacefully and free from coercion.  

 Congress pushed in the defense components of the TRA to ensure the backing of the U.S. military and capabilities would ensure peace across the Taiwan Strait.  

After more than 20 years of guaranteeing Taiwan’s defense, it seems that the Congress was forced to use the TRA to seek peace over Taiwan through deterrence. It is now clear that Xi Jinping has no intention of resolving the issue peacefully and is prepared for armed conflict in the Taiwan Strait, and the situation is very dangerous.   

Earlier this year, now retired Adm. John Aquilino, told Congress that “we are in the most dangerous time that I’ve seen in 20 years, or in my 40 years of doing business.”   

Today we are holding this hearing to assess the executive branch’s implementation of this law to help determine if the fate of Taiwan will be peaceful and if it has the support to deter Chairman Xi.   

As previously noted, one of our responsibilities under the TRA is to arm Taiwan.  After we found out that there was a $19 billion backlog of weapons sales to Taiwan in 2022, we engaged with the State and Defense Departments to address the delays. While I appreciate these engagements, we have yet to receive satisfactory responses to our inquiries about why the delays persist.   

I am also concerned that the Administration has been slow to fully execute the tenet of maintaining the capacity to resist PRC coercion against Taiwan. The CCP has run a successful coercion effort to cut Taiwan out of international organization. We are moving too slowly on initiatives promoting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations. For example, my legislation The Taiwan WHO Act was signed into law 2 years ago- the World Health Assembly is now a month away, and I am hearing that progress on this has been slow at best.  

Delays on our commitments to Taiwan send the wrong signal to the CCP at the worst possible time. The ability to execute our responsibilities under the TRA may very well determine whether we maintain peace in the Pacific or if the United States’ policy of strategic ambiguity is put to the test.   

This may well be one of the most important hearings our subcommittee has this Congress.  

We look forward to your testimony.  

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