SENATE March 8, 2000
ELECTIONS IN TAIWAN
SPEAKER: SENATOR TORRICELLI (D-NJ)
TORRICELLI. Mr. President, during this generation we have
witnessed the greatest expansion of democratic nations in
history. From East Asia to Eastern Europe to Latin America
and the islands of the Pacific, the blessings of democratic
pluralism have expanded to the very bounds of each continent.
It is in the proudest legacies of this Nation that the United
States has played an essential role in facilitating the
transition of these nations to democracy and their protection
at critical moments.
military defense to economic assistance, it is questionable
whether Korea, Poland, Haiti, and scores of other nations
would be free if it were not for the leadership of the United
States. Now this generation of American leadership has a
new challenge. As certainly as our parents and grandparents
fought to ensure that these nations would have an opportunity
to be free, it is our responsibility to assure that these
fledgling democracies have an opportunity to remain free,
a challenge that democracy is not a transitional state but
a permanent condition of mankind, and the nations that would
is one threat developing now before us to this proposition.
It involves the people of Taiwan. During the late 1980s
and 1990s, Taiwan underwent an extraordinary transformation
from an authoritarian regime to a genuine democracy. Taiwan
provided an example of peaceful political evolution from
a military and authoritarian government to a true pluralist
democracy with little violence, no military confrontation,
and without a revolution.
years of justifying tight security control, step by step,
year by year, Taiwan created a genuine democracy. In
a formal opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party,
was formed. And in 1987, martial law was ended after more
than 40 years. In 1991, President Lee ended the Government's
emergency powers to deal with dissent and a new, freely
elected legislature chosen by the people was created. In
1996, Taiwan's democracy had matured to the point that a
Presidential election was held. Taiwan had fully developed.
Democracy had come of age.
in only a few days, on March 18, Taiwan will hold its second
democratic Presidential election. The challenge to this
democracy and the rights of freedom of press, worship, and
assembly so central to maintaining human freedom are no
longer under attack from within. The pressure is from Beijing.
On the very eve of these elections, the People's Republic
of China issued a statement that constitutes a new threat
to Taiwanese democracy. China recently issued its so-called
white paper which warned that if Taiwan indefinitely delays
negotiations on reunification, China will `adopt all drastic
measures possible, including the use of force.'
goes beyond China's previous statements that it would take
Taiwan by force only if it declares independence or were
occupied by a foreign power. The more democratic Taiwan
has become, the lower the bar appears to be for military
intervention and a hostile settling of the Taiwan issue.
aggressive statements obviously only serve to increase tension
in the region and make a peaceful settlement among the people
of Taiwan and the People's Republic of China much more difficult.
This belligerent approach obviously has precedent, almost
an exact precedent. In 1996, also on the eve of a Presidential
election in Taiwan, the People's Republic launched missiles
in a crude attempt to intimidate the people of Taiwan as
they approached their election.
appears that the election of Taiwan's new President will
be close. It is critical to the functioning of Taiwan's
democracy that they thwart any belief in Beijing that intimidation
will solve or contribute to the relationship between these
peoples. It is critical that the people of Taiwan stand
resolute and that their voters not allow these actions to
is obviously an American role. The United States must respond
to this ultimatum by making it absolutely clear that our
position is firm; it is unequivocal. The dispute between
Taiwan and Beijing will not be settled by military means,
and the United States, in a policy that is not unique to
Taiwan, will not idly witness a free people in a democratic
nation be invaded or occupied and have their political system
altered by armed aggression.
I believe, is the cornerstone of American foreign policy
in the postwar period. It remains central to who we are
as a people and our role as the world's largest and most
powerful democracy. Any ambiguity will, on the other hand,
only serve to embolden Beijing and can lead to dangerous
misinterpretations and miscalculations.
is, within this Congress, the opportunity to end any possible
ambiguity. The House of Representatives has passed, and
the Senate has before it, the Taiwan Security Enhancement
Act. Senator Helms and I introduced this legislation last
year in the Senate. The House has spoken overwhelmingly
in favor of our legislation, as modified. The question is
before this Senate.
legislation Senator Helms and I have offered is designed
to ensure Taiwan's ability to meet its defensive security
needs and to resist Chinese intimidation. It imposes no
new obligations on the United States. The legislation, as
passed by the House, will simply strengthen the process
for selling defense articles by requiring an annual report
to Congress on Taiwan's defense requests and ensuring that
Taiwan has full access to data on defense articles. It mandates
the sale of nothing. It requires the transfer of no specific
article. It does guarantee that this Congress understand
the security situation, Taiwan's requests, and a flow of
information. It improves Taiwan's military readiness by
supporting Taiwan's participation in U.S. military academies,
ensuring that their military personnel are trained, understand
American doctrine, and could coordinate if there were a
crisis. This is not only good for Taiwan, it is good for
the United States, ensuring that if tragically there ever
should be a confrontation, our own Armed Forces are in the
best position to train people familiar with our doctrine
and any mutual obligations.
it requires that the United States establish secure, direct
communications between the American Pacific Command and
Taiwan's military. Nothing would be more tragic than to
enter into a military confrontation by mistake or misinformation.
This ensures reliable, fast, secure information so the situation
is available to our own military commanders.
legislation does not commit the United States to take any
specific military actions now, later, or ever. A full range
of options are available to the President and to the Congress.
It also does not alter or amend our commitments under the
Taiwan Relations Act. Rather, it helps us to fulfill those
commitments under the act and ensures that Taiwan's security
pass this legislation, it makes it less likely that we will
become engaged in any future conflict because there will
be no ambiguity, no chance of miscalculation because of
Taiwan's ability to strengthen itself, and because of our
mutual ability to assess defensive needs, less chance of
a military calculation in the mistaken belief that either
Taiwan will not be defended or have the ability to defend
is an important national interest in integrating the People's
Republic of China into the world's economy and in promoting
the growth of democracy and human rights in a nation that
will play a vital role in the coming century. But our overall
relationship cannot possibly develop quickly and positively
if China continues to seek a military solution to the question
of its relations with the people of Taiwan.
making our policy clear, by not assessing the military situation,
we do not contribute to the avoidance of military conflict.
We enhance the possibility of military conflict. This legislation,
I believe, is a strong statement that avoids miscalculation
and lessens the chances of conflict. President Clinton made
a strong statement last week in support of a peaceful resolution
of this issue when he said:
between Beijing and Taiwan must be resolved peacefully and
with the assent of the people of Taiwan.
formulation's emphasis on the `assent of the people'--the
words used by President Clinton--is new and important.
with this Taiwan Enhancement Security Act, I believe it
is an important contribution in this current debate on the
problems of Taiwan security. It is, most importantly, in
accord with the language of the Taiwan Security Enhancement
Act as passed by the House, which states, `Any determination
of the ultimate status of Taiwan must have the express consent
of the people of Taiwan.'
Taiwan Enhancement Security Act, therefore, and President
Clinton's own statement in response to recent provocations
by Beijing, are not only similar, they are identical. I
believe the House of Representatives, in changing the Helms-Torricelli
approach, has made a valuable contribution. I believe, for
the maintenance of the peace and ensuring this Nation's
commitment, that those nations which have chosen to be democratic,
pluralist nations, governed with the consent of their own
people--the commitment of this Nation that those nations
will not by force of arms or intervention have their forms
of government changed or altered will be enhanced.
Taiwan, today, is the cornerstone of that American commitment.
Tomorrow, it could be Africa or Latin America. How we stand
now on the eve of these free elections in Taiwan will most
assuredly constitute a powerful message in all other places
where others would challenge these new and fledgling democracies.
President, I yield the floor.
PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Connecticut is recognized.