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   Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (TSEA)

Senator Jesse Helms Opening Statement for
Hearing on the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act

On behalf of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I extend our welcome to our distinguished witness this morning.

Senator Baucus, Assistant Secretary Roth, Deputy Assistant Secretary Campbell, our private panelists- we are genuinely grateful for your coming to discuss the important topic of the United States' defense relationship with Taiwan.

Specifically, our purpose is to examine the bill S. 693, the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, which Senator Torrcelli and I introduced back in March.

This legislation will ensure that Taiwan will have the essential self-defense capabilities. To accomplish this we propose to bolster the process for defense sales to Taiwan, and help Taiwan achieve and maintain an adequate military readiness.

The need to enhance our defense relationship with Taiwan is obvious.

First, the reunification of Taiwan has become an increasingly high agitation issue for Beijing, now that they have reabsorbed Hong Kong and, as of this coming December, Macau.

Second, Beijing constantly demonstrates a willingness to use intimidation to achieve its goal.  China fired missiles off Taiwan's coast in 1995 and 1996, and is now engaged in a massive missile buildup opposite Taiwan, according to the February 199 Pentagon report to Congress.  Beijing is also undergoing a multifaceted military building which includes increased emphasis on logistical improvements for Taiwan scenarios.

If one adds to this buildup the ugly, threatening rhetoric aimed at Taiwan by the highest levels of the Chinese government recently, one can see the very real threat that Taiwan faces.

Third, part of Beijing's strategy is to continued its pressure on the U.S. to limit or cease arm sales to Taiwan.  This has had effect at various times on successive U.S. administrations.  Of course, it was the Reagan administration that signed the regrettable 1982 Communiqué, which set a ceiling on arms sales to Taiwan and promised China that we would gradually reduce these sales.

Over the years, the United States has refused to sell Taiwan needed defense items such as submarines and AMRAAM missiles solely to assuage China.

And just two weeks ago, the Clinton administration withheld several arm sale notifications to Congress and is reported to be considering further such measures in an obvious attempt to curry favor with Beijing and punish Taiwan for President Lee's recent Remark on Taiwan's status.

Finally, our friends in Taiwan have a military capability that has operated in virtual isolation for over twenty years.  Taiwan's military does not conduct joint exercise with ours and it's not even able to observe many of our exercises.  No U.S. officers above the rank of colonel or Navy captain can go to Taiwan and those who do are limited in the things they can say and do.  This has certainly had a corrosive effect on Taiwan's military preparedness, at exactly the time Taiwan faces a growing military threat from China.

The united State's strategic interests, United States law and United States moral values dictate that we assist our long -time friends on Taiwan in meeting these challenges and that is why Senator and I introduced this bill.

I look forward to hearing from our distinguished witnesses.

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