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   Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (TSEA) - News Clipping

The following article appeared in the Washington Post of April 27, 2000. In it, Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) states that "There was a general feeling that . . . it would be more helpful if consideration [of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act] came at a later date." "There was a realization that the timing of this, while they're establishing a new cabinet, may not be the best time for an event that would get the PRC [People's Republic of China] to react."

The TSEA will not be brought up for a vote before Taiwan’s May 20 inauguration.


Senate GOP Tables Taiwan Bill

By Steven Mufson and Helen Dewar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 27, 2000

Senate Republican leaders have decided to put off consideration of a bill to strengthen military ties with Taiwan, after the island's newly elected president asked a visiting senator to avoid measures that might provoke China at a sensitive time.

Sen. Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska), who visited Taiwan last week, said that President-elect Chen Shui-bian and several other leading Taiwanese politicians urged the Senate to wait until after Chen is inaugurated on May 20 and has set up his administration before voting on the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.

"There was a general feeling that . . . it would be more helpful if consideration came at a later date," Murkowski said. "There was a realization that the timing of this, while they're establishing a new cabinet, may not be the best time for an event that would get the PRC [People's Republic of China] to react."

The bill would create close links between the American and Taiwanese militaries and would irritate Beijing, which regards the self-governing island as part of China. The election of Chen, a long-time advocate of Taiwanese independence, already has raised tensions with the Communist mainland.

Murkowski said appeals for a delay were made in private meetings not only by Chen, but also by rival presidential candidate James Soong, outgoing President Lee Teng-hui, the incoming Taiwanese foreign minister and Chen's party chairman.

"We don't want to be holier than the Taiwanese, so to speak," said one Republican aide.

Senate Republicans previously had pushed for passage of the measure and had linked it to the Clinton administration's arms package for Taiwan, threatening to pass it quickly after the White House rejected the island's request to buy four destroyers equipped with advanced Aegis radar systems.

Despite opposition from the Clinton administration and mainland China, the House voted 341-70 for the bill in February, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) had told senators that he wanted to win final passage by Memorial Day.

Nonetheless, the legislation already was facing trouble. Sources said it appeared to have the backing of a majority of senators but probably not the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural obstacles.

Others said the Senate was less interested than the House in the political cover that the bill might afford for those who plan to vote to grant China permanent normal trade relations. Support for the China trade bill is much stronger in the Senate than in the House.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a leader in the effort to pass the China trade bill, has put a "hold" on the security measure, forcing Lott to muster 60 votes to pass it. Baucus opposes the bill because it would "threaten the spirit of established policy governing U.S. relations with Taiwan . . . unnecessarily heighten tensions between Taiwan and China . . . and hamper passage of permanent trade relations with China," said his spokesman, Michael Siegel.

Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.), who supports the security bill, said it was intended partly to discourage China from interfering in Taiwan's recent elections and to "provide some reassurance to Taiwan that there was this reservoir of support to draw on if there was a problem." So even without passage, he added, "I think the legislation achieved some of its purposes."

 
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