The House Foreign Affairs Committee met this week to mark up H. Res. 494, “Affirming the Importance of the Taiwan Relations Act [TRA].”
The bill, co-sponsored by more than 60 Congressmen, reaffirms the House’s commitment to support Taiwan in joining any regional free trade agreements and to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.
Committee chairman Ed Royce (R–CA) noted that there are few other international laws in existence that are as consequential as the TRA.
President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Taiwan Relations Act 35 years ago. The original bill, introduced by the Carter Administration, lacked any serious consideration of Taiwan’s economic and national security. Congress ended up strengthening it.
The security of Taiwan and its democracy is of the utmost importance to the United States. Located in the “first island chain” between China and the Pacific Ocean, its position limits China’s access to the Central Pacific. It is also under standing (if not always heated) threat from China. As an island nation, Taiwan has naval and air power as the main focal points of its national security. And it’s the TRA that continues to allow Taiwan access to purchase the defense technology that is necessary to credibly assert its interests vis-à-vis China and most effectively serve as an American partner.
As Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R–FL) noted during the hearing, there’s no reason the U.S. should not support Taiwan given an expanding Chinese military and growingly assertive North Korea.
Economic security for Taiwan is also key, as 68 percent of Taiwan’s food is imported. Taiwan today continues to seek formal integration into the regional economy through such things as regional free trade agreements, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Last April, the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific unanimously passed H.R. 419, the Taiwan Policy Act of 2013, before sending it up to the full committee, where it was also passed without objection. It’s clear that the U.S.–Taiwan relationship continues to be strong, as both countries share common interests. As two of the leading free economies in their regions, their relationship is cemented through the TRA.