US senators revive bill backing Taiwan's worldwide recognition

US senators reintroduce draft bill supporting Taiwan's international recognition

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(Photo by flickr user KevinH)

(Photo by flickr user KevinH)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Three U.S. senators on Thursday (May 24) reintroduced a draft bill designed to counter China's bullying of Taiwan in the international arena and the poaching of its diplomatic allies by downgrading relations and cutting or lowering aid to countries that kowtow to Beijing's demands.

On Thursday, Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) reintroduced the draft Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act, or the TAIPEI Act. The act is a U.S. Strategy to engage with governments in the world that support Taiwan's diplomatic recognition, while downgrading ties with countries that tow the Chinese Communist Party line on Taiwan and suspend or alter U.S. foreign assistance to the governments of such nations.

The bill opens by mentioning that since President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016, China has poached six diplomatic allies from Taiwan, and that the Taiwan Relations Act of 2019 requires the U.S. to take steps to address this. The draft then calls on the Secretary of State to submit a report to congress on steps taken by the U.S. to "reaffirm and strengthen Taiwan's international alliances around the world," within 90 days after the law's passage and every 180 days thereafter.

If passed, the act would require the State Department to induce governments which are allies of Taiwan to maintain diplomatic ties with the country and to identify those at risk of severing relations. The bill then calls for supplementing the diplomatic presence in the U.S. of countries that support Taiwan, and reducing their diplomatic footprint if they side with Beijing.

The act would also give the Secretary of State the power to expand, reduce, or terminate U.S. aid to countries depending on whether they improve, worsen, or severe diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The draft then calls for increased U.S. support of Taiwan's participation in international organizations either as a member or observer.

In a press release posted on Thursday, Gardner said that the U.S. should use "every tool to support Taiwan's standing on the international stage." Gardner described the legislation as a "whole-of-government approach to stand up to China’s bullying tactics, and will send a strong message to nations that there will be consequences for supporting Chinese actions that undermine Taiwan."

Rubio indicated the bill was also designed to address recent encroachment by Beijing in the Western Hemisphere:“China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan by bullying and pressuring countries, especially in our own Hemisphere, cannot go unanswered." He added that the bill reaffirms the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and "allows for the State Department to take diplomatic action against governments that alter diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of China."

Coons, a democrat, emphasized that the bill confirmed that support of Taiwan "as free-market democracy and its diplomatic relationships around the world" was bipartisan. "Taiwan is a success story in its region, and both now and in the future, the United States must continue to emphasize the strength of U.S.-Taiwan ties and maintain the status quo regarding Taiwan’s place in the international community," said Coons.