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   Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (TSEA)

Statement by Senator Robert Torricelli
Foreign Relations Committee
Hearing on S.693, Taiwan Security Enhancement Act
August 4, 1999

For years, the U.S. Congress has strongly supported Taiwan's emergence onto the international arena.  But as Taiwan's democratic process and economy flourished, China has grown hostile towards its new international standing.  The 1996 Taiwan Straits crisis demonstrated that we must maintain a delicate balance in preserving regional security and stability.  Our commitment to Taiwan has always been, and will remain, steadfast.

In 1979, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act to legally define the relationship between the United States and Taiwan.  The four principles of the TRA have guided this relationship by recognizing the right of the Taiwanese people to determine their own future through peaceful means, and affirming our commitment to support human rights in Taiwan.  The TRA also commits us to oppose Taiwan's exclusion from membership in any international organizations, and sell defensive articles and services to Taiwan.

China's growing arsenal of nuclear and conventionally armed ballistic missiles makes the sale of defensive articles a timely issue.  The Defense Department's report on the military balance in the Taiwan Straits detailed an increase in China's offensive capabilities and described Taiwan's limited defense capacity.  Given these developments, I joined Senator Helms in introducing a bill to enhance Taiwan's security.

S.693 is designed to ensure Taiwan's ability to meet its defensive security needs.  It authorizes, not mandates, the sale of theater missile defense equipment, satellite early warning data, and specific air and naval defense systems.  It also strengthens the process for selling defense articles by requiring an annual report to Congress on Taiwan's defense requests.  Finally, the bill improves Taiwan's military readiness by supporting Taiwan's participation in U.S. military academies, among other measures.  This bill does not alter or amend our commitments under the TRA.  Rather it ensures that Taiwan's security needs are adequately met.

Recent events make it even more necessary for the United States to continue its support for Taiwan.  President Lee's statements have led China to threaten the use of force against Taiwan.  However, we all recognize that the peaceful resolution of Taiwan's status is important to the Taiwanese people, the U.S. and China.  The people of Taiwan have a right to determine their own future by peaceful means, but we  must remain committed to two important principles.  First, dialogue between China and Taiwan must continue in October.  And second, we must demonstrate our commitment to Taiwan by adhering to our commitments to the Taiwan Relations Act.

This year, I joined several of my colleagues in co-sponsoring resolutions which recognize our commitments under the TRA.  Since 1949, when the United States first officially recognized the Taiwanese government, we have enjoyed a close bond that has survived for almost 50 years.  Now is the time to reaffirm our relationship and concurrently pursue greater regional security.

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