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Senator Hutchinson in support of the TSEA

Washington, 22 February 2000

On Tuesday, February 22nd 2000, US Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AK) made a strong statement on the floor of the Senate, criticizing the new Chinese threats against Taiwan, and supportive of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act. Here follows the full text of Mr. Hutchinson's remarks:

Mr. HUTCHINSON. Mr. President, I was deeply distressed with the news over the weekend of China's new ultimatum regarding Taiwan and the front-page, above-the-fold story in the Washington Post today.

I think the headline summarizes the situation: China Issues New Taiwan Ultimatum: Delay in Reunification Would Spur Use of Force.

It seems that mainland China cannot stand democracy. It is almost as if they have a visceral antipathy to freedom.

I went to Taiwan last month--the Presiding Officer accompanied me on that visit to the Pacific rim--and had the opportunity to visit with the President of Taiwan and numerous officials.

One of the things that struck me as we disembarked the plane and I looked off the tarmac was a whole press contingent, more than we had seen in, say, Japan or South Korea; a media contingent--cameras, reporters--shouting questions at us. I thought, even as we walked toward them, democracy has certainly arrived and democracy has blossomed in Taiwan because one of the signal signposts, I believe, of democracy is an independent and a vigorous and aggressive media. That was certainly evident in Taiwan.

One of the first questions shouted to our delegation, the Senator from Wyoming will remember, was: Will China attempt to disrupt our Presidential elections as they did before? My answer was: I certainly hope not because it did not succeed before and it won't succeed this time.

Four years ago, China launched missiles off the coast of Taiwan, hoping to disrupt a cornerstone of democracy in Taiwan, its Presidential elections. That effort failed both because of American aircraft carriers and the determination of the Taiwanese people not to be intimidated out of their freedom.

Next month, on March 18, the thriving democracy of Taiwan will once again hold Presidential elections, and once again it seems that the Chinese Government hopes to disrupt those elections.

Just yesterday, China issued a new threat to democratic Taiwan. In an official new white paper on Taiwan, the Chinese Government stated that: If the Taiwan authorities refuse, sine die, the peaceful settlement of cross-Straits reunification through negotiations, then the Chinese government will be forced to adopt all drastic measures possible, including the use of force.

In other words, `Negotiate or face invasion' was effectively the ultimatum issued by the Chinese Government. No longer is the bar set at a declaration of independence or occupation by a foreign power; now it includes refusing to negotiate reunification--a dialog that was broken off by the Chinese Government.

This is, in effect, a blank check that the Chinese Government has written themselves, making a subjective judgment on this new, ambiguous standard they have established.

Taiwan is not a military threat to China, and no one in the world believes it is. If it is a threat, it is an ideological threat. A burgeoning society, less than 100 miles across the Strait, with increasing freedoms of religion, speech, and press--freedoms that are stifled on the mainland--the Chinese Government can't stand this shining contrast to its own totalitarian system.

That is why China is pulling down the threshold for invasion and building up its arms pointed at Taiwan.

I suggest it is no accident that earlier this month the first of four Russian Sovremenny-class guided missile destroyers sailed into Chinese waters. I suggest it is no accident this destroyer is equipped with surface-to-surface missiles designed specifically to destroy American Aegis ships and aircraft carriers, America's ships that would come to the defense of Taiwan.

It is no accident that China has ordered Kilo-class submarines equipped with torpedoes designed to evade detection. It is no accident that China has deployed short-range ballistic missiles in the provinces just across the Taiwan Strait. It is no accident that China has flown over 100 sorties over the Taiwan Strait, many with Russian-bought SU-27s.

We must not tempt intimidation with ambiguity. We must not tempt aggression with weakness. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 1838, the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.

Opponents of this act have held this out as being somehow bellicose, somehow threatening. I suggest to all my colleagues in the Senate they simply read what the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act says.

Our colleagues in the other body passed this legislation by an overwhelming vote of 341-70 earlier this month. The Taiwan Security Enhancement Act will bring greater clarity to our relations with Taiwan and China by increasing military exchanges with Taiwan, by establishing a direct military communications link with Taiwan, and by reestablishing Congress as a consultant in the annual arms sales process--as intended and required by the Taiwan Relations Act--which at least, supposedly, governs our relations with Taiwan.

Just last month, General Xiong Guangkai, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army and a former head of Chinese intelligence said, `. . . we will never commit ourselves to renouncing the use of force.'

The irony is that this general did not make this statement while he was in China. He said this right here in Washington while he was being hosted by the Clinton-Gore administration. This reveals the irony of the situation. We have greater military exchanges with a country that points ballistic missiles at us than we do with a democratic ally.

The State Department prohibits our senior military officers from meeting with their Taiwanese counterparts. Instead, the focus is on their Chinese counterparts. Isn't it ironic. I was visiting--I will not mention their names--with leading Army officials, some of whom had served in Taiwan many years ago, and they pointed out to me the irony that while they can hold talks with leading Communist Chinese military leaders, they cannot so much as go to Taiwan and meet with the military leadership in Taiwan, a democratic entity.

It is only a matter of common sense that in the event of a crisis--a crisis now more likely--we should be able to communicate with the Taiwanese military--the people we may be called to defend.

Opponents of this bill claim that ambiguity is good. But there is nothing ambiguous about the Chinese position. The Chinese White Paper even specifically opposed the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act.

I suggest we should not be ambiguous about our support for democracy in Asia, nor should we apologize to China for helping Taiwan to defend itself. I believe China has made itself clear on the Taiwan issue. So should we. I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.