Monday, October 26, 2009

Congressman Adam Smith's Response to My Letter Concerning HCR18

October 26, 2009

Dear Richard,

Thank you for contacting me in support of establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.

Like you, I believe it is important to engage in dialogue with and promote the interests of peaceful, democratically elected governments. I also believe that the history and complexities of China-Taiwan relations make this issue an especially delicate one that must be handled with careful deliberation and diplomacy.

As you may know, the United States has officially recognized the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the legitimate Chinese government since 1979. This officially ended the diplomatic and military obligations of the United States to Taiwan. However, that same year, the 96th Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which stated that while official relations with Taiwan were over, it would be the policy to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and Taiwan, as well as the people in mainland China. This legislation has been the governing authority for United States-Taiwanese relations since its passage.

The framework that the TRA established consisted of recognition of the PRC as the sovereign and sole government of all of China, while still maintaining a positive relationship with Taiwan. The United States has worked for a peaceful resolution to the Taiwanese issue within this framework for the past three decades, preserving the delicate balance in the region that has resulted in a static, yet peaceful situation. In addition, a closer relationship with the PRC has been an important tool in maintaining regional stability, particularly on the Korean peninsula.

The current framework has largely been effective for maintaining peace in the region and promoting the interests of the United States. I believe we should continue to support the "One-China Policy" while maximizing Taiwanese freedom within the TRA framework. Most importantly, we must engage in a diplomatic dialogue with the Chinese to achieve a lasting resolution that preserves United States, Chinese, and Taiwanese interests.

More recently, I have been pleased by the improving relations between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China. As you may know, on March 22, 2008, the people of Taiwan elected Ma Ying Jeou, of the Nationalist (KMT) Party, as President. Ma's victory came on the heels of the KMT's sweeping victory in the legislative elections in January 2008. Since his election, relations between Taiwan and China appear to be warming. For example, in 2008, Taiwan's government agreed to accept a gift of a pair of pandas that were offered by Beijing as a goodwill gesture in 2005. In addition, daily direct flights began for the first time between Taipei and Beijing in December 2008. While tension between both parties remain, their willingness to directly engage each other, strengthen economic ties, and diminish the threat of violence appear to be steps in the right direction to improve the relationship between Taiwan and the People's Republic of China.

Congressman John Linder introduced H.Con.Res.18 on January 9, 2009. This legislation expresses the sense of Congress that the United States should abandon the "One-China Policy" in favor of a "One-China, One-Taiwan Policy" that recognizes Taiwan as a sovereign and independent country. In addition, the resolution states that the President should begin the process of resuming normal diplomatic relations with Taiwan and support Taiwan's full participation in the United Nations and other international organizations.

Currently, this legislation is being reviewed by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. As a member of the Committee, please be assured that I will continue to study this proposal and will keep your thoughts in mind should this legislation be brought up for a vote.

Again, thank you for contacting me in support of establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me again.


Adam Smith

Member of Congress

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