U.S. bipartisan support toward Taiwan to stay despite election outcomes: experts

11/10/2022 02:52 PM
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Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in New York on Wednesday. CNA photo Nov. 9, 2022
Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in New York on Wednesday. CNA photo Nov. 9, 2022

Taipei, Nov. 10 (CNA) The United States Congress' long-term bipartisan support toward Taiwan will not change regardless of the outcomes of Wednesday's midterm elections, Taiwanese experts on American politics said on Thursday.

With votes still being counted, Republicans and Democrats are still in a tight race for control of the U.S. Congress. Republicans are favorites to win the House of Representatives, but the fight for the Senate is on a knife-edge, as Democrats defying expectations showed strength in defeating Republicans in a series of competitive races.

Speaking during a Taipei seminar on what the U.S. elections outcomes mean to Taiwan, Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), a research fellow at Academia Sinica's Institute of European and American Studies, said it is worth noticing that long-time pro-Taiwan Republican Congressman Steve Chabot, a co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, has failed to win re-election in Ohio.

Also, Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a co-chairman of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, announced he will retire from the Senate at the end of this year.

The loss of two pro-Taiwan heavyweights in both the House and Senate this year, however, does not mean the U.S. Congress will be less supportive toward the country, according to Lin.

U.S. congressional support toward Taiwan has been long-standing and bipartisan, he added.

Sharing similar views with Lin, Hung Yao-nan (洪耀南), a professor from Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of China Studies, said that despite the fact that Taiwan is losing two long-time supporters, namely Chabot and Inhofe, other pro-Taiwan candidates, including those who recently visited the country, have won their respective race.

"We do not expect to see any major change in U.S. policy towards China and Taiwan," Hung said.

Two other scholars attending the Taipei seminar, meanwhile, said a major factor in determining the new U.S. Congress' attitude toward Taiwan is on how they deal with a number of Taiwan-friendly bills waiting to be passed, including the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 and the Taiwan Policy Act (TPA).

"Whether these proposed bills will see major revisions in the next Congress will be an indicator," he said.

Sung Wen-ti (宋文迪) of the Australian National University, meanwhile, said it is unlikely that the passage of TPA will be met with any major problem in the next session of Congress.

The problem is what revisions will be made, particularly on those clauses that are more symbolic, including renaming Taiwan's representative office, Sung said.

"How would the Chinese government react and how strong would that reaction be will have a direct impact on U.S.-Sino relations in the next two years," he said.

Described by its sponsors as "the most comprehensive restructuring of U.S. policy towards Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) of 1979," the TPA cleared the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September.

Some of the bill's original proposals -- including renaming Taiwan's de facto U.S. embassy, requiring Senate approval for Washington's envoy to Taipei, and designating the island a "major non-NATO ally" -- were either removed or made nonbinding due to misgivings from the White House.

Despite this, the updated bill still includes provisions authorizing up to US$6.5 billion in grants from 2023 to 2027 to Taipei to purchase U.S. arms.

(By Joseph Yeh)


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