US House hearing signals commitment to 'Reinforcing the US-Taiwan Relationship'

The US should issue a 'wake-up call' to the world, by adjusting Taiwan policy to better reflect reality that two separate and legitimate governments exist on each side of the Taiwan Strait, says Chairman Ted Yoho

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(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – At a subcommittee hearing of the United States House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee entitled “Reinforcing the U.S.-Taiwan Relationship” on April 17, U.S. Representatives discussed the current geopolitical situation facing Taiwan.

In another clear sign that the U.S.-Taiwan relationship is growing stronger, the Chairman of the House Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee, Ted Yoho, said that he believes Taiwan is a country, and that links between the U.S. and Taiwan must be strengthened.

Referring to the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué, of the Nixon administration, Ted Yoho remarked that although both governments in China and Taiwan may have endorsed the idea of “One China” then, the United States policy on Taiwan’s status has remained undefined, but that it must be resolved eventually.

Yoho said that in light of Xi Jinping’s creeping authoritarianism and threatening posture towards Taiwan, that it is time for the U.S. to review its policies.

Yoho noted that the status quo has already begun to change in the Taiwan Strait and that it may be time for the U.S. to work with Taiwan on establishing a new status quo for the benefit of the Taiwanese people, and the peace and prosperity of the region.

The witnesses at the hearing included Mark Stokes, the Executive director of the Project 2049 Institute, Julian Ku, a professor of constitutional law at the Maurice A. Dean School of Law, and Tiffany Ma, Senior Director of Bower Group Asia.

Mark Stokes discussed the ambiguity surrounding the “One China” policy while noting the modern “political paradox” that Taiwan represents in the world. Ultimately, Stokes recommended incremental and increased engagement between the U.S. and Taiwan to establish a “normal, stable, and constructive” relationship with Taiwan.

Julian Ku recommended in his testimony that the U.S. clarify its own “One China” policy, which he asserts is fundamentally different from China’s interpretation of the policy, noting that the U.S. has yet to firmly establish a clear position on Taiwan.

Ku noted the tactics of coercion and bullying which China uses to prevent Taiwan’s participation in numerous international organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Authority and Interpol. He also brought the committee’s attention to unfair economic practices to undermine Taiwan’s economy and its constructive relationships abroad.

Ultimately, Ku asserted that U.S. diplomacy with regard to Taiwan has been “surprisingly ineffective” in the past and that whatever the U.S. position on Taiwan, the U.S. should make it clear that the final status of Taiwan must be determined through non-violent and non-coercive means.

Tiffany Ma spoke about the challenges that China poses to both U.S. interests and Taiwan, noting that China is already “rewriting the status quo through the use of sharp power” to force the annexation of Taiwan. Ma recommended that the U.S. reaffirm its commitments to Taiwan, and dispel the notion that Taiwan is something to be bargained over with China.

Ma insisted that Taiwan should serve as a key partner in the U.S. strategy for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific region, and likewise that the U.S. government should enhance bilateral cooperation on trade and security. High level meetings in accordance with the Taiwan Travel act should serve as meaningful occasions to visibly advance such a cooperative relationship, as opposed to being merely symbolic shows of support.

Though expressing different views on how the U.S. could best improve relations with Taiwan, members of the congressional subcommittee were unanimous in voicing their support for the country of Taiwan to maintain its status as a free and democratic society, without being coerced or threatened by China.

In his closing statements, Rep. Yoho suggested that as the geopolitical landscape has shifted, it may be time for the United States to peacefully issue a "wake-up call" to the world, by adjusting its policies towards Taiwan to better reflect the reality that two entirely separate and legitimate governments exist on each side of the Taiwan Strait.

The entire hearing can be seen below, and official statements prepared by the witnesses are available at the website for the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.