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U.S. representatives introduce TAIPEI Act

2019/10/19 13:34:20

The Capitol Building (CNA file photo)

Washington, Oct. 18 (CNA) Several U.S. representatives on Friday introduced the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act to reinforce ties between the United States and Taiwan.

In a bipartisan effort, John Curtis, a Republican congressman as well as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, worked with four of his colleagues from both the Republican and Democratic parties in the House of Representatives to initiate the bill.

The four other representatives are: Michael McCaul, the lead Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman emeritus on the House Homeland Security Committee; Mario Diaz-Balart, the Republican co-chair of the U.S. Congressional Taiwan Caucus; Albio Sires, the Democratic co-chair of the caucus; and Vicente Gonzalez, a Democratic representative.

"The bipartisan legislation is intended to strengthen Taiwan's standing around the world and comes in response to increased Chinese pressure intended to restrict Taiwan's international space and global diplomatic recognition," Curtis said in a statement.

The move by the five representatives came after the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations passed its own version of the TAIPEI Act on Sept. 25, right after Taiwan lost two diplomatic allies in the Pacific in just one week in September, due to China's poaching.

Both versions of the TAIPEI Act, which are similar, indicate that under the sense of U.S. Congress, the U.S. government should support Taiwan in strengthening its relationships with its diplomatic allies and unofficial partnerships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.

According to the two versions of the TAIPEI Act, in alignment with Washington's interest, the U.S. government should consider reducing its economic, security and diplomatic engagement with countries which take serious or significant actions to undermine Taiwan.

The two versions of the TAIPEI Act also urged the U.S. government to launch negotiations with Taiwan "with the goal of entering into a free trade agreement that is of mutual economic benefit and that protects United States workers and benefits United States exporters."

The Senate and the House will need to pass the bill in identical form before it can be presented to President Donald Trump to sign into law.

Curtis worked as a missionary in Taiwan from Utah about 40 years ago and he is fluent in Mandarin.

On his website, Curtis posted a video in which the congressman said he was delighted to have a chance to help people in Taiwan even though he has left the country he loves for many years.

"My time as a missionary for the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints in Taiwan provided a unique understanding of the history and culture in the region. Almost four decades later, I am still committed to advocating on behalf of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people," Curtis said.

"Our relationship with Taiwan is an important alliance and we must do all we can to empower their democracy and free-market economy. The TAIPEI Act is bipartisan, doesn't cost the American taxpayer a cent, and it combats Chinese bullying tactics. Win, win, win," he said.

On Sept. 16, the Solomon Islands decided to switch diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing, and four days later Kiribati did the same, leaving Taiwan with only 15 diplomatic allies worldwide.

(By Stacy Hsu and Frances Huang)
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