Leaders Delay Taiwan Vote On Concerns Over China Talks
By Robert G. Kaiser
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 2, 1999; Page A04
leaders have decided to put off a floor vote on a controversial
bill to improve U.S.-Taiwan military relations, after some
lawmakers raised concerns that the move could interfere
with sensitive negotiations to bring China into the World
Taiwan Security Enhancement Act, approved last month by
a 32-6 vote in the House International Relations Committee,
calls for an upgraded military-to-military relationship
between the United States and Taiwan. It would also require
the administration to make regular reports to Congress on
the military balance between China and Taiwan, and on American
plans to deal with any military crisis that could jeopardize
"United States interests on Taiwan."
Clinton administration mounted an intense lobbying campaign
against the bill, arguing that it would jeopardize Taiwan's
security by worsening China-Taiwan relations. The administration
argues that it continues to provide for Taiwan's security,
and has gone further than any previous administration to
do so. China has denounced the bill.
the administration's efforts to persuade the International
Relations Committee--which included phone calls to members
from Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and national
security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger--were unavailing.
House members said the bill would easily pass the full House
if it came up for a vote.
in the Republican leadership over the bill led to the decision
to put it off until next year. According to leadership aides,
the disagreements concerned timing more than substance.
Some thought that while China and the U.S. are negotiating
a deal to make China a member of the World Trade Organization,
House passage of the Taiwan Security Act would be a provocation.
One source said the leadership agreed to let the bill come
to the floor next year.
original version of the bill was introduced by Sen. Jesse
Helms (R-N.C.), who acknowledged that it would infuriate
China. The House panel substantially rewrote the Helms bill,
though key provisions on an enhanced military relationship
with Taiwan survived. Supporters of the bill say it lacks
majority support in the Senate now.