As many analysts have pointed out, cross-straits issues concern not only the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, but also the Asian-Pacific region, because it may be the only issue that could provoke a conflict between the United States and China. At a deeper level, China still presents a distinct challenge to the United States. The 114th Congress leaders in the House and the Senate must focus on how the nation will deal with it’s rebalancing in the Asia-Pacific, their associated security concerns, and regional evolving security realities.
As China is a rising power focused on expanding its maritime territory in a regional cauldron of nationalist sentiments, it is important to recall the significant role that the U.S.-Taiwan partnership has played not just for the U.S. and Taiwan but also for the entire Asian region. Taiwan has historically played an important role as an ally of the United States and has significant importance as a security factor in relations between Washington and Beijing, and other nations in the Asia-Pacific region.
In light of the evolving dynamics in the Taiwan Strait, Congress ought to study the feasibility of establishing a congressional commission similar to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) created by congressional mandate. Washington needs a commission that will advise the Congress so that members of Congress will have some idea as to what the impact on national security is of this trade relation’s legislation. The commission would to monitor the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.
Arms sales help secure Taiwan’s democracy, which will be of even greater strategic importance to the United States as Washington proceeds with its pivot to Asia. Paul Wolfowitz, chairman of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, said recently “The re-emergence of cross-Strait tensions would threaten stability in East Asia in a more fundamental way than even the current disputes over islands and territorial waters. Recent events in Hong Kong should be a reminder of Beijing’s capacity for miscalculation, and of how free people may react when their freedom is threatened. The U.S. can help avoid this outcome by being more active in supporting Taiwan.”
2015 is the year for regional economic reorganization. An irresistible force will hit Taiwan. Participation in internationalization is Taiwan’s only economic option. A congressional commission with the legislative mandate is not a panacea. But without it, nothing is possible. A congressional commission similar to USCC is a prerequisite for Taiwan’s participation in the international economy. Willful blindness to international power politics, globalization, and the rise of the China, can only lead to Taiwan’s marginalization under capitalist competition.
Beijing is attempting to lead regional trade and financial integration. The new Republican majority must not ignore the impact regional economic integration may have had on Asia-Pacific economic security. The GOP leadership should craft a congressional commission similar to USCC to bolster the prosperity in Asia-Pacific. A congressional commission with the legislative mandate will enable Taiwan to advance bilateral trade with U.S. and also to contribute even more to the international community and boost the prosperity and stability in the region and the world.
Kent Wang is advisory commissioner for the Overseas Community Affairs Council of Republic of China (Taiwan) in the United States and writes on East Asian international politics and regional security issues.