New US Congress to help Taiwan?

Given the recent elections, I thought this article on foreign policy might prove interesting. Will Taiwan be helped by these elections? The Taipei Times seems to believe that might be the case.

Taiwan may get boost from US results

The Democratic Party’s dramatic victory in the US House of Representatives is expected to be a net plus for Taiwan, as Taiwan’s supporters seek to exploit the split between the House Democratic majority and the Republican White House in the wake of congressional elections in which most backers of Taiwan retained their seats. “Democratic control of the House is good for Taiwan,” said Coen Blaauw, a veteran Washington lobbyist for the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, who feels the Democratic majority will be more willing than their Republican counterparts to buck US President George W. Bush and the State Department in pushing for legislation about Taiwan opposed by the administration. Most of Taiwan’s biggest backers in the House retained their positions despite earlier fears that some could be defeated.

Although it is good for Taiwan to hang on to “key players” in Congress, is this article rather over-egging what may happen? Will the Democrats use China/Taiwan as a stick to beat Bush with? The point about Nancy Pelosi was interesting, as she will have a highly important role from now on. Or might the representatives even feel more inclined to make the White House be more reconciliatory towards Beijing, by using the “aggressive foreign policy never solves anything” card, using Iraq as an example? That appears unlikely, but I thought it might be an interesting thought to consider.

To be quite honest I find it very difficult to offer a comprehensive view on this article, as I am not an American. So I wish to open up the floor to my respected “brothers and sisters” from across the (other) Pond for their views on where US relations with Taiwan may go from here. Might Congress prod President Bush to authorise the sale of the 66 F-16 fighters, given the recent developments in Taiwan concerning the “Big Three” arms purchases, for example? Or is the article correct to suggest that it would kill off the chances of a US-Taiwan FTA? There are also other pieces of proposed legislation, which have not been passed – what will happen with those I wonder…..

The Discussion: 8 Comments

I just hope the democrats will be more direct with China. Trade with China has been good, and I hope it continues, I just get so frustrated with how the US government has to always walk on eggshells with China. I say just be blunt with the Chinese government, they’re not children (well, despite the fact they sometimes whine and cry like children).

November 10, 2006 @ 7:53 am | Comment

It seems according to Washington Post China is uneasily anticipating a bumpy road in relations with the United States in view of the Democrats’ victory in midterm elections. The appointment of Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House of Representative has met many negative remarks in Chinese media. Southern Weekend described Pelosi as one of Beijing’s most ardent critics because she voiced strong objection to Beijing hosting the Olympics. She also opposed increasing America’s cultural and scientific exchanges with China, and have continuously been casting opposing votes on giving China favored-nation trade status.

November 10, 2006 @ 12:25 pm | Comment


You are not the only one who feels out of place with all these heated debates about the result of the US midterm election.

I’m not really the best person to make comments about whether this new US Congress will or will not help Taiwan because I’m not really sure how this new Congress is different from the old Congress. So I’m still waiting for someone more informed to make a comment

But then of course, the ultimate question is: to help Taiwan doing what? Is selling more weapons helping Taiwan? I understand the importance for Taiwan to be equipped in a military sense. But how is this armament race going to benefit regional stability?

Personally, I’d like to see more genuine dialogue between China and Taiwan over the future of Taiwan. I don’t like this kind of stalemate isolation that Taiwan is experiencing at the moment. I would like to see Taiwan people having more say and more control over their future and their relations with China as well as other parts of the world. Will the new US Congress help with that? I’m not too sure.

November 10, 2006 @ 1:15 pm | Comment

Fat Cat, thing is that there is already an arms race, but an extremely one-sided one with China going at full kilter ahead. Taiwan can’t match that, but it can try to even the odds. It is a joke to suggest that Taiwan trying to make some purchases to update ageing weaponary is going to “provoke” China into arming itself even further. Even China has a limit in how fast it can increase its spending.

But “helping” Taiwan isn’t just arms, it’s also legislation, like allowing top US officials to visit Taiwan (there’s some strange prohibition on it at the moment), trade agreements, supporting a bid to join the WTO, etc.

As to cross-Strait dialogue, there isn’t much the US can do. The DPP has shown it is willing to talk, even drop its independence pledge – but China reserves all the red lines, soit won’t. Nothing the US can do about that.

November 10, 2006 @ 6:35 pm | Comment

China will just wait until 2009, when a far-more-conciliatory Ma Ying Jiu will play a little more into their hands. I thought that this was generally understood. They don’t have to deal with CSB.

As for the Dem Congress helping Taiwan, one could always hope they could be more supportive of Taiwan’s role in international organizations.

I kind of doubt there will be much change though.

November 11, 2006 @ 1:42 pm | Comment


What happens when, despite the nicer PR work, China realises that the KMT isn’t going to offer much more than the DPP? Sure, let’s have cross-Strait links – but how are they going to be controlled? I’m sure China’s thinking that the KMT will sign everything over to them, and that it won’t brook any impingment on its “sovereignty”. But the KMT will not allow hoardes of Chinese to come over unchecked.

I think China could easily get disenchanted with the KMT, when it realises movement over serious issues will be not be much easier than with the DPP. The KMT may want unification, but there are so many caveats attached that it won’t happen for decades, if it happens at all. I think China will get annoyed at having the “fairytale” of unification occuring as soon as those evil DPP types go, being completely smashed.

November 11, 2006 @ 6:41 pm | Comment

I agree with Raj. I don’t think that a KMT-led Taiwan government is going to do more towards unification than the DPP. It is because the KMT can’t really go against the wishes of the majority of Taiwanese who are in favour of maintaining the status quo, i.e. ipso facto self-determination without actually declaring independence. There’ll be no meaningful cross-strait dialogue unless and until China accepts that this is what the majority of people in Taiwan want.

November 11, 2006 @ 10:57 pm | Comment

Well, there are some Taiwanese Americans in the US who have historically voted Republican because the GOP seems to have more of a anti-Communist reputation. Unfortunately, however, the Taiwan government has championed in the past some of the more reactionary politicians such as Jesse Helms because he hates the “Chicoms”.

However, in reality and over time, US policy towards China (and Taiwan by extention), on balance, does not really differ very much with whoever is in power, whether it is Dems or Repubs. San Francisco is represented by Nancy Pelosi, who is known for her human rights criticisms of China. OTOH, San Francisco is also home to Senator Dianne Feinstein, probably the most pro-China politician in Congress. Both are Democrats.

November 12, 2006 @ 1:20 pm | Comment

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