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   House passes HR 1838

House Overwhelmingly Supports
The Taiwan Security Enhancement Act

{Feb. 1, 2000]  The House of Representatives today voted overwhelmingly to strengthen the U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s security by voting 341-70 for the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.  The margin of victory for HR 1838, as amended by House International Relations Committee Chair Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) and ranking Democratic member Samuel Gejdenson (D-CT), was a clear signal to China that House members on both sides of the aisle forcefully support Taiwan’s self-defense needs in the face of the growing military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait caused by China’s military modernization and weapons procurement efforts.

In the floor debate, Members stressed the importance of reaffirming American “strong support of the cause of freedom” on Taiwan (Rep. Robert Andrews, D-NJ),  which “provides China with a road map” to the future, (Rep. Ken Calvert, R-CA).  Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-CO) stated his agreement with a statement by Annette Lu, vice presidential candidate of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party, who told him recently of the “importance of this Congress speaking out boldly” and clarifying the U.S. commitment to Taiwan particularly during this election period on the island.

Rep. Ben Gilman (R-NY) applauded Taiwan’s “refusal to be intimidated” by China and the need for the U.S. to stand up to recent statements by China’s General Xiong Kuang-kai who refused to renounce the force against Taiwan.  “General Xiong was not ambiguous.  We should not be ambiguous,” stated Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA). Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-CT), with a smile, noted that “Administrations would rather not hear from us” on foreign policy issues, but stated his pride at bringing up the issue of freedom and independence for the Baltic states over the years while Secretaries of State tried to wish the issue away.  “The Baltics are free” today, said Gejdenson, again with a smile.  “This bill is a very clear signal about democratic values as they exist on Taiwan,” Gejdenson added.

“At the dawn of a new century,” said the bill’s original author, Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), “the world must be reassured that the U.S. will stand by its friends.”  As the oldest revolution and the oldest democracy, added Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX), the U.S. has always been willing to “sacrifice for the freedoms of others.  We should keep this heritage.”

The Gilman-Gejdenson amendment:

1. Strengthens US policy that the ultimate status of Taiwan must be decided by peaceful means by stating unequivocally, “Any determination of the ultimate status of Taiwan must have the express consent of the people on Taiwan.”

2. Calls for increased training for Taiwan’s military officers in US military education schools and operational training and exchanges of senior officers from both countries for “work in threat analysis, doctrine, force planning, operational methods, and other areas.”

3. Demands that the Administration, when considering arms sales to Taiwan, “take into account the special status of Taiwan including the defense needs of Taiwan in response to the military modernization and weapons’ procurement efforts by the People’s Republic of China.”

4. Seeks the establishment of direct secure communications between US and Taiwanese forces.

5. Requires reports on:
a. Taiwan’s defense requests and Administration decisions about these requests.
b. The security situation in the Taiwan Strait.
c. The ability of the US to successfully respond to a major contingency in the Asia-Pacific region where US interests on Taiwan are at risk.

“This is a powerful signal to the people of Taiwan, and the Taiwanese-American community in the U.S.,” stated Chen Wen-yen, President of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.  “As Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY) noted, there was a strong grassroots campaign by our community for this bill.  We thank our friends in Congress for backing Taiwan’s right to exercise its democracy freely and for sending a strong message to China to keep their hands off Taiwan.”

“Many Members were deeply moved,” Chen continued, “by meeting Roger Hsieh last week.  Hsieh was a political prisoner in Taiwan for 16 years, precisely because he spoke out for democracy.  Roger told Members how important the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act was as a means of insuring the people of Taiwan not lose their precious right to choose their elected representatives without fear.  He voiced his concern that, without the TSEA commitment, many voters in Taiwan would feel intimidated by China’s threats.  I’m sure he is rejoicing with us today because of this vote!”

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