China's military threats and intimidation against Taiwan evoked a strong reaction in the US Congress. Across the political spectrum, members of the House and Senate expressed their anger and dismay at China's bullying. Below, you find some excerpts from the statements. It is followed by a summary of the efforts in the House to introduce a Resolution on the safety and security of Taiwan.
On 24 January 1996, on the same day as the New York Times article appeared, Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD) called attention to the Chinese threats, and stated that they were "...a blatant attempt to influence the outcome of the upcoming Presidential elections in Taiwan." Mr. Pressler strongly criticized the Clinton Administration for its confusing "creative ambiguity" policy, and called on the Administration to recognize its current had failed. He urged the US government to "... send a clear signal to China that the United States will not accept the reunification of Taiwan with the mainland by force."
On January 25, Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued a statement in which he called on the US Administration to "...reject military bullying from Beijing." He also said: "Peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits is in the political, security and economic interest of the United States. United States interests are served by supporting democracy abroad. It is therefore necessary that the U.S. reaffirms its safety and security commitment to the people of Taiwan, and declare that it is the right of the people of Taiwan to determine the future status of Taiwan without any interference from China."
On the same day, Rep. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) appeared on the floor of the House of Representatives, and gave a 7 minutes-long speech in response to the article and the Editorial in the New York Times of the previous day.
Mr. Torricelli concluded: "I simply make an effort to communicate with the leaders in Beijing, to let them know that the firing of the missiles was not only wrong, but threatening military action is irresponsible." "And so I hope that parties to this potential dispute will again renew their commitment to peace, and ensure that our actions remain responsible, that all parties at the end of the day recognize that the United States will not witness the forceful end of the Government of Taiwan."
On 26 January 1996, Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY), chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the US Senate, also made a strong statement, saying "...there are 21 million people in Taiwan, who have made clear their desire to live in a free and democratic society. It is consequently not for the PRC, under the guise of reuniting the motherland to unilaterally dictate the terms, timing or conditions of that reunification."
Senator Thomas continued: "The PRC should make no mistake; I strongly believe that any attempt to establish a military or economic blockade of Taiwan, or other such military threat, will be met with be the most resolute condemnation and reaction on the part of the United States, and indeed the rest of the community of nations. It is my view that actions such as the missile tests and threat of military force will have the exact opposite of their desired outcome. As we have seen, the people of Taiwan did not let themselves be intimidated at the polls by the launching of (last summer's) missiles. I believe that such threats can only make them more resolute in their goals." Mr. Thomas called on the Clinton Administration "...to relay our position to Beijing in the clearest and most unequivocal terms."
On 2 February 1996, in a letter to President Clinton, initiated by Congressman Tom Lantos of California and signed by eighty members of Congress, the Congressmen wrote: "...China's aggressive posture against Taiwan, and its latest threats of missile attack and possible invasion following the impending presidential elections on Taiwan, are outrageous. These attempts by China to intimidate the people of Taiwan into abandoning their rightful quest for international respect, commensurate with their role in the world, are wrong and must not succeed. Furthermore, China's poorly veiled threats against the United States are equally unacceptable and reprehensible. We therefore urge you to resist this aggression with all the means at your disposal, and provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself."
On 6 February 1996, Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) called attention to the Washington Post editorial of that date ("If China Attacks Taiwan"), called for a firm US position vis-à-vis China which he referred to as "a dictatorship and a dictator" and said that the United States should use its air power to help defend Taiwan.
On 31 January 1996, Congressman Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) introduced a Resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, stating that"any attempt by the People's Republic of China to threaten the peace and security of Taiwan is a threat to peace and security in the Pacific and tantamount to a threat to the interests of the United States."
The measure was cosponsored by Congressmen Peter Deutsch, Tom Lantos, Sherrod Brown, Gary Ackerman among others. However, in the beginning of March 1996, it was decided that in view of the new developments, it was necessary to develop a new, stronger resolution, which was initiated by Congressman Christopher Cox (R-CA).
The resolution proposed by Mr. Cox expresses "...the sense of the Congress that the United States is committed to the military stability of the Taiwan Straits and United States military forces should defend Taiwan in the event of invasion, missile attack, or blockade by the People's Republic of China."
As this issue of Taiwan Communiqué was going to press, we learned that prominent members of the United States Senate introduced Resolution no. 43, which called on the PRC to stop its bellicose actions, and termed the missile tests a threat to the peace, security, and stability of Taiwan.
We are pleased to announce that four Taiwanese organizations in Washington, DC have jointly set up an Internet "homepage". The organizations have each played a key role in the transition of Taiwan from an authoritarian repressive system to a full-fledged democracy. They are: the Center for Taiwan International Relations (CTIR), the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), the DPP Mission in the United States, and Taiwan Communiqué.
The URL address is:
The four organizations jointly present information on history, news and current events, and upcoming events such as the March 1996 Presidential elections. We will also present extensive links to other Taiwanese sources, such as student associations, and groups in Taiwan.
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