Congressman Peter Deutsch: "Send Beijing a message"

Washington, 9 March 1999

HON. PETER DEUTSCH (D-FL) in the House of Representatives:

Mr. Speaker, I was very disturbed to read on the front page of The Washington Post on February 11, 1999 the headline "Chinese Missiles Menace Taiwan ." Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have fought hard to ensure the safety of Taiwan , and this report and others are evidence that Congress must be vigilant in reinforcing its commitment to this tiny island state.

According to a Pentagon report, Beijing now has 150-200 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan and has plans to increase that number to 650. It is clear that this threat is a challenge to Taiwan's increased democracy and independence -- as evidenced most recently by its successful elections.

We all remember the last time this happened. In March, 1996, China reacted to Taiwan's imminent first democratic presidential elections by testing missiles in the waters just miles off the coast of Taiwan's largest harbor, Kaohsiung. The United States responded swiftly and effectively, by dispatching aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Straits to show the Chinese government our strong opposition to its actions.

Our response in 1996 was based on the provisions of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which stipulated that the United States consider "any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means . . . of grave concern to the United States." Our response now should be based on this same principle.

1999 marks the 20th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act -- the cornerstone of U.S. commitment to Taiwan's safety and security. We must commemorate this anniversary by sending a clear message to Beijing that their acts of aggression and intimidation against Taiwan need to cease. Beijing must understand that, as we have in the past, we will come to the aid of Taiwan in case of a Chinese threat.

I am proud to be a co-sponsor of H. Con. Res. 22 which concludes that "the United States should help Taiwan defend itself in case of threats or a military attack by the People's Republic of China against Taiwan ." This resolution repeats the provisions of one I introduced in 1997, which was passed by the House of Representatives later that year.

Mr. Speaker, let us pass H. Con. Res. 22 now, and let us send a strong message to Beijing that we will not stand idly by while our friends on Taiwan are bullied into submission by Chinese military might.

Back to: News and Current Events